Pittsburgh Penguins Defeat New York Rangers; Advance to the Second Round
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeat New York Rangers, clinching a spot in Round 2 with a 6-3 victory in Game 5 of their opening-round series at Consol Energy Center Saturday. The Penguins knocked off New York in five games, their quickest victory in a series since beating Ottawa in five in Round 2 in 2013. The win for the Penguins was a little measure of revenge, considering the Rangers were the team that eliminated them from the playoffs the last two seasons.
The Penguins got goals from Bryan Rust (two), Matt Cullen and Conor Sheary during the second period. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the key to New York’s chances of staging an upset, stopped only eight of 12 shots during those 20 minutes and was replaced by backup Antti Raanta for the second game in a row.
His rookie counterpart for the Penguins, Matt Murray, stopped 38 of 41 shots to earn his third victory in the series. Murray was, as always, unfazed by adversity, including having New York’s two first-period goals put into his net by teammates Ben Lovejoy and Patric Hornqvist.
The Penguins scored on six of 23 shots against Lundqvist, who frustrated them in the postseason in 2014 and 2015. He gave up 10 goals in the final two games — Pittsburgh won Game 4 5-0 — or two more than he allowed the Penguins in a five-game series last season.
The Penguins Were the Hotter and Younger Team
This Penguins team possesses such a swagger, a jump, that makes them entertaining to watch and dangerous to play against. Indeed, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault predicted they were going to be a handful for whomever they end up facing this spring.
The Penguins simply skated by the older, slower and decidedly lethargic Rangers. The Rangers came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Penguins in 2014 and the Capitals in 2015, but there was no comeback this time as the Penguins improved to 5-2 all time against the Rangers in the postseason.
What’s Next For the Penguins?
The Capitals were by far the best team in the league this regular season, running away with the best record and clinching all the major team standards (division, conference, league best record and all home ice) before the spring thaw even came around.
The Penguins, on the flip-side, are the league’s best team since Mike Sullivan took over in December, and were one team that actually defeated the Caps in the regular season series (Pens going 3-2-0 in 5 matchups).