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Pens-Rangers Game 1 delivers as advertised

 

 

First impression: The Rangers are fast but fallible.

But what they were most of all in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Penguins was resilient.

That hang-in-there mentality allowed the Rangers to survive being outplayed for the most part, including being outplayed badly in the second period, after achieving a 2-0, first-period lead they proved unable to maintain.

In the end that resiliency was what mattered most and what allowed New York to take the opener of what’s shaping up to be a fascinating series, 3-2, in overtime.

“Disappointing,” is how Dan Bylsma summed up what transpired.

“I thought we were pretty solid all night but we don’t get the win,” defenseman Rob Scuderi added.

There’s not a great deal more to read into Game 1 than that.

New York’s speed was evident early.

Benoit Pouliot took off like a rocket after collecting the carom of a Chris Kunitz shot that had been blocked by Dan Girardi and didn’t stop coming until the Rangers led, 1-0.

And Carl Hagelin sprinted past Olli Maatta to collect a dump-in, and then out-battled Maatta in the corner while in the process of setting up the second New York goal.

New York was at its best when it was combustible, especially after a below-the-goal-line turnover in overtime, when the Rangers managed to get the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury twice while emphatically deciding the issue.

And because of that quick-strike explosiveness the Rangers demanded from the Penguins awareness, attention to detail and execution.

The Penguins, for the most part, were pretty good in all of those areas.

Just not good enough.

The Rangers were likewise susceptible to mistakes, which contributed greatly to New York proving incapable of holding onto that 2-0 lead.

New York came in 0-for-21 on the power play and then went 0-for-4 and seemingly never threatened to dent the net with a man advantage (the Penguins at least found a post while going 0-for-4).

Pouliot got himself out of position by launching an ill-advised, search-and-destroy mission against Robert Bortuzzo, which greatly aided the rush that resulted in the Lee Stempniak goal that cut New York’s lead to 2-1.

Martin St. Louis take an offensive-zone penalty for elbowing Bortuzzo and Brian Boyle took another offensive-zone penalty for tripping Bortuzzo (what is it the Rangers seemingly have against him?).

The Rangers had an increasingly difficult time keeping the Penguins from possessing the puck and getting to the net once the Penguins finally got going, right up until the closing seconds of regulation when a Stempniak shot from in close glanced off of Kunitz, who was in even closer.

King Henrik Lundqvist even played one into his own net off his shoulder.

So the Rangers aren’t perfect, either.

Overall, the pace was fast and the action was frenetic and it was the type of game in which both teams ought to feel comfortable and confident, and yet wary of what might happen when they’re at something less than their best individually and collectively.

Stuff happens in that type of game.

In Game 1 it happened to the Penguins.

Now it’s their turn to be the more resilient team.  

 

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