NEW YORK – The Big Apple has been more like the Big Donut to the Pittsburgh Penguins this season.
The team went winless against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in four regular-season contests.
The Penguins have a chance to change that trend this week as they invade Gotham City for Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 3 is Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“It’s tough to play in that building and, obviously, we’re going to have to steal a game in there sooner or later,” Penguins center Jordan Staal said. “It was good we got a solid start and we’ll go from there.”
The Penguins beat the Rangers in the first two games at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. That extended the Penguins’ playoff winning streak to six games – the second-longest streak in team history. It also marked the second time in team history the Penguins opened a playoff year by winning their first four home games. That happened in 1970 when they won Games 1 and 2 vs. Oakland and Games 3 and 4 vs. St. Louis.
Overall, the Penguins earned a point in 12-straight home games (10-0-2) and in 17 of the last 18 home games (14-1-3). They are 20-2-3 in their last 25 contests at Mellon Arena.
“I think both teams have just played strongly at home,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “That’s just the way it’s worked out. As the season went on, I think we got better on the road. Here, we have to make sure we maintain that same effort and attitude when were at home.”
So why have the Penguins struggled at Madison Square Garden?
“Especially, in the regular season, Madison Square Garden was a building we really struggled playing in, for whatever reason. Three of our worst games all year, we played in that building,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “I don’t know. It’s my favorite road place to play, basically. It’s always a good atmosphere and the crowd is always good. We joke around and say that it seems like we’re playing a completely different team when the Rangers are at home. They play with a lot more energy and I think they feed off their crowd. In the playoffs, every building is going to be loud. But, it’s the playoffs so hopefully our luck will be different now.”