Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Penguins’ 5-0 victory against the NY Rangers in Game 4.
1. Start Me Up
The Rangers did not want to return to Pittsburgh down 3-1 in this series. But it was the Pens that played desperate hockey to start the contest. It took just 69 seconds for Pittsburgh to draw first blood when Eric Fehr, crashing the net, deposited a rebound into the net to give the Pens a 1-0 lead. A power-play goal from Patric Hornqvist at the 7:11 mark gave the Pens an early 2-0 lead. When Conor Sheary scored his first career playoff goal at 16:12 the life was sucked out of the building and out of the Rangers. The Pens dominated for 60 minutes, but they only needed 16:12 to put a dagger in the Rangers’ hearts.
Head coach Mike Sullivan called star center Evgeni Malkin “a difference-maker.” And that’s exactly what ‘Geno’ was in Game 4. Malkin missed the final 15 regular-season games and Game 1 of the playoffs with an upper-body injury. He said his shot wasn’t quite 100 percent in Games 2 and 3. But man oh man, his shot has finally returned. The Pens scored three goals thanks to Malkin’s shot. In the first period, Malkin’s slap shot was double deflected by Sidney Crosby and Hornqvist before eluding Henrik Lundqvist. Then Malkin sealed the game just four minutes into the second period when he unloaded a missile from the point that gave Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead. Malkin’s second goal was poetic justice. After JT Miller slashed him on the wrist, Malkin left in the game in obvious pain. He returned on the ensuing power play to toss a little dirt on the Rangers’ grave. Malkin re-directed a Brian Dumoulin pass into the net for his second goal of the game and fourth point of the night. He now has six points (2G-4A) in three games. Malkin is indeed back.
3. Power Clutch
The only thing more important than scoring on the power play, is scoring clutch goals on the power play. The Pens made the most of their chances with three tallies, and as a result they were able to skate comfortably out of New York with a two-game sweep. The formula was simple: pucks on net. More descriptively: Malkin shots on net. Malkin’s first shot was a double deflection for a goal. Malkin’s second shot was just a blast through a screen that sealed the game after 24 minutes of play. Malkin’s final shot came with him at the side of the crease for a score. Notice the trend? Good things happen when Malkin shoots the puck.