Think a three-goal lead is safe against the Pittsburgh Penguins?
The New York Rangers found out otherwise Friday night as the Penguins rallied from a 3-0 hole to post a dramatic 5-4 win in Game 1.
The young Penguins did not dwell when the Rangers posted the 3-0 edge 3:37 into the second period; they merely regrouped.
“This is a great accomplishment by that young group to be able to bounce back against a team like the Rangers who really, really committed defensively,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “This is a team that has a lot of confidence. Even if they are young, this is team that has confidence. They never give up. If they are trailing by one, two or three goals, they believe they have time to make that up and come back. You don’t want to be down by three goals. That’s not the plan. The plan is to get the lead and we try to get the lead. With their intensity, they are confident.”
On the other end, Rangers coach Tom Renney believes his squad may have been too confident with the three-goal cushion.
“The one thing we do have is a pretty good grasp of the obvious. Pittsburgh isn’t where they are because they are a poor team and don’t have an ability to bounce back. We were certainly aware of that and maybe almost to a fault. You have to push and keep doing what got you to where you were in the first place. That and some untimely penalties hurt us,” he said. “One of the things we have to do is become a more complete team and manage all three zones with all five people and don’t become disconnected by making poor decisions with the puck and attack more. I am not sure we did that as well as we needed to.”
Jarkko Ruutu’s deflection goal got the Penguins on the scoreboard 8:13 into the second and injected some life into a once-rowdy Mellon Arena crowd that created a whiteout effect with white T-shirts and rally rags.
“Ruutu got a big one there to start us off. Once again, our role guys are the difference a lot of times,” Crosby said. “That was a big goal to get us back.”
When Pascal Dupuis one-timed a Sidney Crosby pass into the net 14 seconds later, the building got louder. Marian Hossa’s goal 4:40 into the third put the 17,132 fans into a frenzy.
“When you’re down by that much, you have to take it in small steps and one shift at a time and try to go shift after shift and try to create pressure and, eventually, either you’re going to get chances or draw penalties if you move your feet,” Crosby said. “That was a great effort. We didn’t quit. We got some bounces and stayed with it. Anything can happen and we did a good job of sticking with things.”
The Penguins posted a 4-3 lead 20 seconds later when Petr Sykora found the back of the net, but the Rangers tied it with 9:56 to play.
Evgeni Malkin deflected a Crosby slapper past Henrik Lundqvist for a power-play goal with 1:41 to go to cap the Penguins’ victory. Crosby was the game’s No. 1 star as he finished with two assists. He also drew the penalty that set up the game-winning goal.
“He was phenomenal tonight and generated a lot of scoring chances,” Therrien said. “He is tough to play against. He draws a lot of attention on the ice because of his work ethic and speed. I thought he played really well.”