Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the Pens' 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
1. Well, we passed up too many shots. We were trying to make the play and this time of year it’s hard to get shots. You’ve got to put pucks on the net like the goal we scored. (Ian) Cole puts it on net and we fight for a rebound and screen and those are the types of goals you score in the playoffs.
2. (Marc-Andre) Fleury was outstanding again. He gave us a chance at the end to get our goalie out and get a shot at tying the game and sending it to overtime and he made some big saves.
3. I liked our push. Our push was great in the third. We need to show that desperation obviously earlier, but we know it’s there and we have to come with it on Wednesday.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the media level.
1. It was an ugly first two periods, but the Pens began to find their game in the third and produced one heck of a push over the last 10 minutes in particular. If the Pens play at that level for a full 60 minutes, they should get a much better outcome. The problem was, of course, that they didn’t come up with that effort until it was too late. One improvement they wanted to make in Game 3 was getting more shots on Henrik Lundqvist and they went out and did the exact opposite, as the Pens had just 11 shots through the first 40 minutes. They were playing too hesitantly to sustain much of an attack. While the Rangers did a terrific job of playing structured defense and keeping them to the outside, the Pens didn’t do enough to battle through and create space for themselves. They were content with staying on the perimeter and working there, passing up far too many opportunities to put the puck on net in the process. They raised their level of play in the third, led by the compete of Patric Hornqvist – who was one of the few Pens going all night long. The Pens finally started shooting, getting to every single rebound and loose puck, and taking everything to the net. They have to play that way from the drop of the puck in Game 4.
2. The Pens wouldn’t have even been in a position to tie the game late if it wasn’t for the play of Marc-Andre Fleury. He was the reason the score was just 2-1 at that point in the game despite the Pens getting vastly outplayed for the first 40-plus minutes. He faced several odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances from Rangers players lost in coverage, especially early on, and he turned them all aside. One of the goals he allowed was on a breakaway that came as the result of a bad change, and there’s nothing he could do on that one. I can’t say enough about how incredibly solid Fleury has been through this series thus far. He’s been so calm and confident between the pipes. He’s doing his part; the Pens just need to start giving him more help on the scoreboard down at the other end.
3. The Pens were again hobbled by another bad start. While Pittsburgh did have a strong first few shifts, after the Rangers got an early power play they had all of the momentum. They were all over the Pens and kept pinning them down in their own end, which forced them to go into survival mode. The Pens would get tired after a lengthy shift stuck down low and chip the puck into open space so they could get a change. As they skated to the bench for fresh legs, the Rangers would retrieve the puck, come right back the other way and the vicious cycle would start again. It went on for far too long. The guys have said time and time again that the best defense is a good offense, and the Rangers exemplified that in the first. It was a game that really made the Pens miss guys like Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff and their ability to skate the puck out of danger or move it up out of the zone.