NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will enter Game 2 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) with renewed confidence.
Players were upbeat Friday despite a 2-1 series-opening loss on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
"Take away the first 10 minutes of [Game 1] and I feel we got better every minute of the game and that's why we came within one goal of tying it up," forward Maxim Lapierre said. "We can beat the Rangers if we play our game and skill set. We have to come out [Saturday], look them in the eye and know we can beat them."
Just six players skated on the off day Friday, but Penguins coach Mike Johnston and four other players spoke to the media at a hotel in Manhattan about what needs to be done to even the series.
"When we got to our game, we were able to get pucks behind their defense and work it down low and get to [Henrik] Lundqvist by creating down low as a team," defenseman Paul Martin said. "We need to build on that. Allowing that early goal and taking [four penalties] in the first and spending all that time in the box is something we didn't want to happen, but we were able to create opportunities 5-on-5 and gain momentum."
The Penguins did hold their own against the Rangers at 5-on-5. The team took five penalties in the game and even though the Rangers only managed one goal on the man advantage, it did take its toll on an injury-depleted defensive unit minus Kris Letang (concussion), Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and Derrick Pouliot (upper body) in Game 1.
Johnston said Ehrhoff and Pouliot, who skated on Friday, remain day-to-day. It remains to be seen if either will be available for Game 2.
The Rangers outshot the Penguins 31-23 when the teams skated 5-on-5, but each team scored once.
"I thought we moved the puck north, kept things simple and were able to break up their forecheck," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They've got a really aggressive, very effective forecheck and I thought by moving the puck quick and getting it up, we were able to minimize it and get the puck going our way."
The Penguins fourth line of Lapierre centering left wing Nick Spaling and Blake Comeau played a big role in the game since top offensive threats Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were limited with the amount of penalties taken early. The Spaling-Lapierre-Comeau line generated six hits, four shots and the only goal for the team 6:15 into the second period.
"Lapierre has a lot of energy and is in quickly on the forecheck, Comeau was holding onto pucks and skating well and Spaling was reliable both ways," Johnston said. "They were good in the Rangers end and created every shift. Spaling and Lapierre also played key parts in our penalty kill."
Because of injuries along the blue line, the Penguins had Taylor Chorney and rookie Brian Dumoulin each making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. Dumoulin had 10:20 of ice time, one blocked shot and took one shot. Chorney played 12:51 and took two shots on goal.
"I think we faired pretty well as a defense overall," Chorney said. "That first period wasn't the ideal result we were looking for and as the game went along we began to establish some territory in their end, and I think as a team you can see that if we're going to have any success, that's the recipe. We have to find ways to get pucks deep and make them defend in their end."