The Pittsburgh Penguins have a somewhat surprising 1-0 series lead over the New York Rangers. As fans and we media pukes predicted a quick demise and dismantling, the Penguins proved everyone right for 22 minutes before storming New York goalie Igor Shesterkin with 83 shots on goal into the three overtimes before winning Game 1, 4-3 in triple overtime.
Evgeni Malkin parked himself where many Penguins finally dared tread: in front of the net. Malkin tipped John Marino’s wrist shot past Shesterkin, and the Penguins have a golden opportunity Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins can claim a 2-0 series lead in the Round One best-of-seven. The puck drops just after 7 p.m.
(for the record, I predicted the Penguins in 7).
We also suggest you get to your seat for the national anthem, which was nothing less than rousing/raucous/goosebump-inducing. It is the best since Chicago Stadium (for those old enough to remember the pipe organ).
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby willed his team back into the game when it seemed all hope was lost. The Rangers pounded the Penguins defensemen like a heavy bag. Ryan Reaves especially pulverized John Marino at every opportunity. The Penguins had little offensive mojo, and the New York crowd was all over them.
Until Crosby set up Jake Guentzel near the net, and then Crosby set up Guentzel streaking towards the net. Not even a New York shorthanded goal could deter the Penguins when Kris Letang and Malkin set up Bryan Rust for a slam dunk power-play goal…near the net.
The Penguins core showed well. Crosby had two points (0-2-2), Malkin had two points (1-1-2), and Kris Letang played over 46 minutes with one assist in the triple OT thriller.
“It was a character win, you know? I just think so highly of our players and our leadership,” Sullivan said. “I just believe these guys are capable of so much. And we have a high character group. That was on display in a game like (Tuesday). That was a hard-fought battle.”
The Penguins got offensive contributions throughout the lineup. Shots weren’t a problem as Kasperi Kapanen (8), Evan Rodrigues (7) weren’t shy, and every Penguins player had a shot on goal. Brock McGinn also had a strong game.
“I thought as the game went on, (McGinn) got better and better…I think that’s the best game that he’s played since he’s come back from the injury,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s an important player for us. He’s just a gritty guy. He’s hard to play against. He helps us in so many areas.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins stopped tip-toeing around Shesterkin and went at the playoff newbie.
They were pretty good in Game 1, but the Penguins must clean up a handful of things for Game 2, as told by colleague Dave Molinari.
Sullivan said Casey DeSmith and Rickard Rakell, both injured in Game 1, were still being evaluated on Wednesday. The Penguins called up goalie Alex D’Orio, which likely means DeSmith will not be available.
Update: DeSmith will not play on Thursday
DeSmith pulled himself out of the game in the second OT and limped down the runway. By all accounts, it was not merely a cramp. Louis Domingue entered the game and stopped all 17 shots he faced for his first playoff win.
Domingue, 30, is the Penguins starter in the absence of DeSmith. Domingue has 142 games of NHL experience, but this will be his first playoff start. He’ll face Shesterkin in Game 2. Depth goalie Alex D’Orio will backup Domingue.
Rickard Rakell was injured when he absorbed a hard, high check from defenseman Ryan Lindgren. Rakell was essentially knocked out and had to be helped off the ice.
Lindgren left the game in the third period and did not return. Rangers’ second pairing defenseman K’Andre Miller also suffered an injury and did not return. Miller often matches against the Crosby line.
If Jason Zucker cannot play, Drew O’Connor will likely draw in.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
New York Rangers Lines per PuckPedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Betting:
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The “bet against Dan and win money” pick of the game take the Penguins (+140). Oddsmakers are going heavy against the Penguins’ chances of winning both at MSG. For me, there’s just something about a team that loses a triple OT game–the legs are heavier. The skates are wetter.
If the Penguins weather the first 10 minutes…
I also think the Penguins finally believe they can score on Shesterkin. I also like the chances for another OT game (+320).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet, TNT, Sportsnet, TVA; Radio: 105.9 The X