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Instant analysis: Rangers vs. Penguins, Game 4

Malkin, special teams help Pittsburgh put New York on brink of elimination

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins moved within one game of advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-0 win against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 with Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had two power-play goals and two assists. The four points tied his career high for most in an NHL playoff game. Forwards Eric Fehr, Conor Sheary and Patric Hornqvist each scored, and center Sidney Crosby had two assists, giving him six points in the series.

Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray made 31 saves for his first career NHL playoff shutout in his second appearance. He made 47 saves on 48 shots in winning Games 3 and 4 at the Garden.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 18 shots.

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm4: Sheary swipes puck, rips goal

What we learned: Malkin has arrived in the series and is making his presence felt. After two subpar games following his return from an upper-body injury that had him out for 16 straight games, Malkin broke out in Game 4, and it was like the Rangers' worst nightmare coming true.

Malkin had an assist on Fehr's goal that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead 68 seconds into the game. He also had an assist on Hornqvist's power-play goal at 7:11 of the first that made it 2-0. He poured it on with two power-play goals.

Special teams continue to favor the Penguins. Their power play is sizzling. Pittsburgh went 3-for-6 on the man-advantage in Game 4 and is 7-for-19 in the series; New York was 0-for-4 with six shots on goal and is 1-for-16 with 20 shots on goal in the series.

What this means for the Penguins: They hold a 3-1 series lead on the Rangers for the second time in the past three seasons. They took a 3-1 series lead back to Pittsburgh in the 2014 second round but lost the next three games, leading to the eventual firing of general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma.

What this means for the Rangers: They're in the same hole they dug out of against the Penguins two years ago and against the Washington Capitals in the second round last season. No team in NHL history has rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1 in three straight seasons. Then again, no team had ever done it in two straight seasons before the Rangers did. New York, though, hasn't won a home playoff game since defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final last year. The Rangers have since gone 0-5 with three goals in five playoff games at the Garden.

Key moment: Rangers forward Jesper Fast had the puck at his stick, Murray down in his crease and a Penguins defender in front of him at 4:55 of the first period. It was a great chance for Fast to score a game-tying goal, but he swung and missed. Fast's whiff proved pivotal because 2:16 later, with the Penguins on the power play, Hornqvist scored a deflection goal that increased the Pittsburgh lead to 2-0. Instead of being locked in a 1-1 game after giving up a goal 68 seconds in, the Rangers were behind by two. They never stood a chance from there.

Unsung player of the game: Sheary again was a force. He turned a takeaway in the defensive zone into a backbreaking breakaway goal at 16:12 of the first period that gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead. Sheary came up high to apply pressure on Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein and read that he was going to pass the puck down the right-wing wall. Sheary intercepted the pass and broke out of the zone alone with speed. He got inside the left circle and beat Lundqvist with a high blocker-side wrist shot. Sheary had two goals against Lundqvist and the Rangers on March 13. He also had an assist in Game 1.

What's next: Game 5 is at Consol Energy Center on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, TVA Sports). The Penguins have lost their past three playoff games when they could eliminate an opponent -- all to the Rangers in the 2014 second round.

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