-Marc Staal played a marvelous game Friday. He logged 26:03 of ice time and had probably the biggest hand in his team's ability to shut down Sidney Crosby. It's been a difficult two seasons for him dealing with head and neck injuries. His most notable injury was an gruesome eye injury which really derailed his play last season. Staal adopted a visor and eventually started wearing one with a fairly dark tint. He was asked about the visor today and remarked that for him, the biggest issue with his eye was lights and glare off the ice. He mentioned the light in Consol Energy Center is pretty bright. Staal was informed that Alex Ovechkin used to have one which was a virtual mirror from his junior days and it was suggested he probably wore that to look cool, Staal joke, "I'm never going to look cool."
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
-We'll be interested to see how ugly or nasty this series will become once it progresses to the middle games. Penguins-Rangers is a rivalry but it's not Penguins-Flyers or Rangers-Devils. It's mostly a rivalry based on history. But these aren't Mario Lemieux's Penguins (beyond him being the owner that is) or Mark Messier's Ranger's any more. Sidney Crosby and Brad Richards are rivals in that sense.
-Speaking of Crosby, we still can't see any evidence of a physical ailment. His body language isn't great on or off the ice. NBC captured video of him getting into a heated exchange with Dan Bylsma. Even in his dealings with the media, which are certainly more intense in terms of the physical numbers of media members covering practice and morning skate, he's been a little more terse than usual. Regarding Crosby, Bylsma enthusiastically said, "I expect him to be at his best tonight."
-Some sights around the building. The barn:
-The great Joe Vitale has a fan here:
-There's even some Blue Jays fans here with that team in town to play the Pirates:
-Ditto the late great Dustin Jeffrey:
-The Penguins could use the real Max Talbot these days:
-Or the real Mark Recchi:
-We always seem to run into a Craig Adams fan:
-This fan has a Sidney Crosby Dartmouth Subways jersey:
-Fans entering the barn:
-It's kind of a meh crowd for the big screen:
-There are several Rangers fans on hand. Marc Staal and Brad Richards:
-Martin St. Louis:
-(Bury) Adams Graves:
-Considering how much he annoyed and tormented the Penguins in the first round with the Blue Jackets, this Brandon Dubinsky jersey was a good choice:
-A complicated relationship:
-There are a ton of former Penguins/Rangers player represented. Martin Straka:
-Alex Alexei Kovalev:
-Jersey of the Night: Petr Nedved:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Lee Stempniak, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Chris Conner, Deryk Engeland, Tanner Glass, Jayson Megna, Brooks Orpik, Taylor Pyatt and Tomas Vokoun.
-In warmups, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings were:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Joe Vitale - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Craig Adams - Marcel Goc - Brian Gibbons
Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Olli Maatta
Robert Bortuzzo - Rob Scuderi
-The return of Gibbons is certainly welcome.
-The Rangers' starters are Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist.
-Their scratches are Connor Allen, Ryan Bourque, Raphael Diaz, Justin Falk, Jesper Fast, Tommy Hughes, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, David Leneveu, Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath, J.T. Miller, Darroll Powe and Danny Syvret.
-Jeff Jimerson is always welcome:
19:25: The Penguins open with a dominant first shift, Letang and Crosby each have shots blocked by Boyle. Letang from the right point and Crosby from the right circle.
19:20: That early strong first shift is snuffed out as Kuntis bumps into Lunqvist int he crease and falls on him. That's called as goaltending interference. That's kind of ticky tack. Adams, Sutter, Scueri and Martin take the ice.
18:35: Gibbons gets some early ice time on the penalty kills and helps force Derek Stepan into a turnover at the Penguins blue line and chucks it down ice.
17:21: A slapper by Staal from the right wing is fought off by Fleury. The rebound bounces around and is played out of danger by Maatta. That kills off Kunitz's minor. The Penguins were were ptty dominatn with hat shift.
16:24: Huh? Dan Carcillo pushes a puck up the left wing and chips it in from the Penguins' blue line. Niskanen plays him and gets a an arm up high into Carcillo's neck. Carcillo jerks his head back and sells the penalty. The officials buy it and send Niskanen off for roughing. It's a bizarre call. Sutter, Adams, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.
15:14: A slapper by Richards from the right point is blocked by the stick of Goc.
14:31: Nash dekes Letang out of his skates in the Penguins right circle and makes him take a tumble. Nash plays a puck towards the net and is rejected by Fleury.
14:24: Niskanen's minor is killed. Once again, the Penguins looked strong on the penalty kill.
16:01: Girardi fires a slapper form the right point and has it blocked.
13:35: Bortuzzo jumps on a loose puck on the right half wall of the Rangers' zone and whips it on net. Lundqvist snags it.
13:02: Another penalty. Girardi plays a puck out of his own right wing corner and is slammed from behind by Malkin who gave hims a shoulder between his back and planted him between the boards. That's a legit penalty. It wasn't particularity viscous but it wasn't smart either. Martin, Scuderi, Adams and Sutter take the ice.
11:30: Goc steals a puck off Giardi in the left wing corner and backhand a pass to Gibbons int he slot. Gibbons deal sit back to Martin in the Penguinz one and the Penguins kill off some time. That is called ragging the puck.
11:02: The Malkin minor is killed. the Penguins' penalty kills has been outstanding thus far.
10:47: Staal chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury boots it out.
9:53: Sutter whips a puck from behind the goal line in the left wing corner into Lundqvist' body as he hugs the post. The puck plops loose in the blue paint as play is blown dead. A scrum ensues. Carcillo get a little too rambunctious for the officials and is sent off for roughing Neal. We suspect the officials wanted to give a penalty to the Rangers to even things out a bit. Martin, Niskanen, Crosby, Kunitz and Malkin take the ice.take the ice.
9:32: A loose puck skids to the left circle where Niskanen chops it wide on the near side.
8:59: Off a cross-ice feed by Malkin, Niskanen chops one-timer from the left half wall wide on the near side.
8:54: Another one-timer by Niskanen from the left circle has the same result.
7:53: The Carcillo minor expires. The Penguins possessed the puck well but couldn't get a clean shot on net.
7:39: A wrister by Carl Hagelin from the high slot is deflected wide.
7:33: Klein booms a slapper from the right point is off the mark.
6:56: Off a steal by Crosby from behind the Rangers net, Kunitz takes a pass from Crosby and rockets a wrister over the cage.
6:03: A slapper by Niskanen from the right point is blocked.
5:20: Goc is centering Stempniak and Bennett.
4;41: A slapper by Scuderi from the left point is off the mark.
4:11: A wrister by Bortuzzo from the right point is wide of the cage.
3:08: Adams lays out a handful of hits on Staal and Carcillo. Staal in the Rangers' end boards and Carcillo in front of the off-ice officials.
2:10: Malkin is skating with Crosby and Kunitz.
1:54: Officials are doling out mad penalties. As the Rangers go offsides, Bortuzzo thumps Martin St. Louis to the ice. Nash gets Bortuzzo in the back with a cross check. Bortuzzo is nabbed for xxx. Nash gets a cross check minor. Play will be four on four for two minutes.
1:19: Maatta chosp a slapper from the right point. Lundqvist kicks it out a screen by Jokinen.
0:22: Crosby dances his way up the right wing by McDonagh and attacks the net. flips a forehand shot over the net.
0:03: Crosby has woken up. Taking a feed by Malkin, Crosby gets a step on Anton Strlaman and whips a backhand on net from the right circle. Lundqvist knocks it dead an smothers the rebound.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 0, Rangers 0.
-The officials kind of dominated that period. They have a low tolerance for any hijinks and have been sending off players liberally. That period turned into a special teams festival.
-After they killed the three penalties, the Penguins switched things up a bit with their lines. Malkin was on with Crosby and Kunitz and that seemed to really spark Crosby. He had some quality chances.
-So far so good for Brian Gibbons on the penalty kill. Along with Goc, he played a big role in the Penguins killing those minors.
-Where would the Penguins be without Goc the past four games?
-The Penguins started to control things from a physical perspective. They initiated a lot of contact.
-The Penguins were pretty aggressive with shooting as well. They weren't always accurate but they didn't hold much back.
-The Penguins have a 9-7 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have an 18-13 lead in attempted shots.
-Girardi leads the game with 10:42 of ice time.
-Martin leads the penguins with 9:30 of ice time.
-The Penguins have a 12-10 lead in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Sutter is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Dominic Moore is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Fire Ray Shero.
-St. Loius and Martin each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: There will be six seconds of four on four play to start the period.
19:54: Nash and Bortuzzo return to the ice.
19:47: Fighting though a stick check by McDonagh, Crosby deals a pass from the right circle Marti in the high slot. Martin chops a slapper wide of the cage.
19:27: Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked out of play by Staal.
18:51: Malkin is skating with Neal and Jokinen.
18:43: Battling for possession of the puck in the Rangers' right wing corner, Neal slams Staal to the ice with a forearm shiver.
17:39: A redirection by Vitale from the high slot is blocked by Klein.
17:28: A wrister by Sutter from the right wing is snagged by Lundqivst.
16:47: Taking a pass from Gibbons, Letang goes in deep on the right wing and gets a step on Klein and pushes a forehand shot on net from the right cirlce. Lundqvist denies it.
16:21: Another penalty. Kunitz again. he hooked up Derick Brassard as he gained the offensive zone on the right wing. Sutte,r Adams, Scuderi and Martin the ice icetake the ice.
16:16: Richards get a point blank chance in the high slot. His slapper is denied by Fleury's chest.
15:54: Richard tees up a slapper from the right circle. Fleury fights it off despite traffic.
15:45: Richard chops another slapper from the right circle. Fleur enis. Brassard flips the rebound wide.
14:21: A slapper by Girardi from the right point is blocked.
14:12: HUGE SAVE! Girardi fumbles the puck at the Penguins enter point and loses it to Stempniak who taps it to the neutral zone. Kuntiz race out the penalty box and hustle his way up ice on a breakaway. He approaches the net and releases forehand shot which Lundqvist swats it away. What a big save.
12:53: This is turning into goaltending duel. Derek Dorsett gets a chance on the right wing and rips a wrister. Fleury punches it away with his blocker.
12:33: Off a feed from Neal, Sutter chips a backhander form the right circle. Lundqvist eats it up. A small scrum develos behind the net but officials break it up.
12:07: Zuccarello appears to get away with a bit of a hold on Malkin near the Penguins' blue line.
11:32: Bortuzzo topples Stpen and Boyle near the red line. After a stoppage, Bortuzzo heads down the runwawy toward the dressing room.
10:50: Bortuzzo returns to the bench.
10:26: Off a neutral zone steal by Letang, Crosby has a wrister from the right circle blocked by McDonagh.
10:03: Another big save! Gibbons, skating with Kunitz and Crosby, pushes the puck up the right wing, pulls up and deals a pass to the crease. Crosby is there and re-directs it on net but Lundqvist reads it perfect and kicks it out. Nice pass by Gibbons. Great save by Lundqvist.
9:34: Finally the Penguins break through. Kunitz dekes his way around a check in the neutral zone and pushes the puck to the blue line. He deals a cross-ice pass to Letang on the right wing. Letang tries to deal it back to Kunitz above the blue paint but it hits the stick of a diving block attempt by Girardi. The puck flutters over Lundqvist's blocker. It's a lucky goal but the Penguins will take it. Kunitz gets credit for the goal for the moment. Letang and Malkin get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
UPDATE: Letang is officially awarded the goal. Malkin and Kunitz get assists.
8:20: Sing-song "Luunnnn...kkiiissssstttt...." chants begin.
8:08: Malkin's father is shown in the stands. He offers a smile and a wave.
7:25: Jokinen digs a puck loose behind the net and deals to Sutter in the slot. Sutter rips a wrister which Lundqvist just barely gets a piece of.
4:58: Gibbons races up the right wing and deals a to centering pass which Girardi blocks.
4:47: Richard get a chance in the right circle but lose the puck and it slides in on net where Fleury smothers it despite having the world crash around him. Attendance is announced as 18,638. It is the team's 332nd consecutive sellout.
4:20: Another big save by Lundive. Off a one touch pass by Crosby, Kunitz taps a puck from in front of the blue paint. Lundqvist kick it over the net.
4:05: Crosby whips a loose puck form the slot on net. Lundqvist kicks it out.
4:33: Crosby tries to jam in a puck from the slot but is denied. A scrum ensues. Officials take a few moments to break it up.
3:26: Nash has two chance denied by Fleury. Fleury smother the second. Fans offer "FLERRR-EEE!" chants.
2:57: Off om on cho apssin gin tight Neal has a point blank chance denied by Lundqvist.
2:50: A puck slide to the side of the cage where Lundqvist lunges out to smother it. Jokien falls into Carcillo. Another scrum ensues. Carcillo and Neal each get sent off to the penalty boxes. Caricllo get a roughing minor while Neal is nabbed for unsportsmanlike conduct. Four on four play for two minutes.
2:01: Malkin lugs the puck up ice up the right wing and backhands it wide to the far side.
1:20: Crosby get loose on the right wing and lifts a backhander on net. Lundqvist denies it.
0:34: Stralman chops a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.
-Lundqvist was the story of that period. If not for a bad hop off his own player, this is still a 0-0- game. He's was outstanding that period.
-He had to be outstanding. The Penguins dominated that period. They had the puck in the Rangers' zone most of that 20 minutes and peppered Lundqvist with some solid shots.
-The Penguins better expect a big pushback from the Rangers this period.
-We're not sure if players adjusted to the officials or the officials just called less, but special teams did not play nearly as big of a role that period.
-The Penguins have a 25-17 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 43-32
-Crosby leads the game with six shots.
-He has 10 attempted shots.
-Richard leads the Rangers with four shots.
-Martin leads the game with 18:24 of ice time.
-Girardi leads the Rangers with 17:29.
-The Penguins have a 24-21 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 15 (67 percent).
-Dominic Moore is 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Martin leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Staal, Boyle, Zuccarello and Pouliot each lead the Rangers with two blocked shots.
-A reader is sporting his Peter Skudra jersey:
-That is not a jersey foul by the way. It's just plain awesome.
19:34: Zuccarello snsp off a tricky wrister from the Penguins blue line using Martin as a screen. Fleury snags it.
19:03: Maatta chops a slapper from the right point. Zuccarello blocks it out of play.
17:15: Malkin pushes a puck up the right wing and feeds it to Kunitz above the blue paint. Kunitz redirects it with his skate and Lundqvist is able to kick it out.
15:36: John Moore goes in deep on the right wing and plays a puck into a cluster of bodies in the slot. After a battle, Stempniak is able to skate it out of danger.
15:23: Off a steal in the offensive zone, Stempaniak rips a wrister from the high slot. Lundqvist kicks it out despite a screen by John Moore.
14:25: From low in the right circle, Neal rips a wrister from the right circle. Lundqvist boots it out.
13:33: Off a steal by Malkin, Kuntiz chops a shot while falling from the right wing wide of the cage.
13:23: A re-direction by Carcillo in the right circle is eaten up by Fleury.
12:53: Bennett pushes the puck up the right wing and rips a wrister which is blocked wide.
12:47: Neal rips a wrister from the right circle. Neal fights it off but loses track of the rebound. A scramble ensues but the Penguins can't do anything with it.
11:37: Nash chucks a pretty innocent wrister from the right point on net. It hits off Fleury lid and he saves it. it damages his throat protector so Fleury skate to the bench to hav eit removed by equipment manager Dana Heinze.
11:30: BIG chance here. Neal chases after a puck up the right wing of the neutral zone and is held up by Girardi. Neal sort of pulled Girardi into him to sell the penalty. The Penguins get a power play. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
10:37: Letang snaps off a wrister form the high slot and it hits Crosby up high. It bounces around a bit before officials blow play dead for a hand pass.
9:47: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Neal releases a wrister from the slot wide of the cage.
9:30: The Girardi minor is killed. The Penguins didn't do much with that chance other than kill two minutes.
8:22: Off a steal by Bennett, Stempniak rips a shot from the right circle which is blocked.
7:28: off a feed by Malkin, Kunitz rips a wrister from the right circle over the cage.
6:01: Off a turnover by Scuderi on his own right wing corner, Richar centers pass for Hagelin in the slot. Bortuzzo read it all the way and taps it away. Great play by Bortuzzo.
5:23: Letang rips a wrister from the right point and and it gets blocked. The rebound is played down ice for Richards. Martin chases him down and steals the puck Great play.
5:11: Staal centera pass from the left poitn to
4:52: The Rangers skate offsides on the right wing wall and Dorsett drops Kuntiz after the whistle. Kunitz sells it a bit. Niskanen goe after Dorsett but officials keep them at bay. Dorsett is given roughing minor. What a stupid play. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Niskanen and Martintake the ice.
4:08: A wrister by Malkin from the right circle is denied by Lundqvist.
3:30: Game. Set Match. Off a feed by Letang, Neal hustle up the left wing and releases a wrister from the half wall. Lundqvist fights it off but allow a poor robound to the right circle. Jokinen is Johnny Jussi On the Spot and leans down to whip it by Lundqvist's glove hand for a goal. Awful rebound by Lundqvist. Even worst penalty by Dorsett. Neal and Letang get assists. The "Hey Song" is neither awful nor stupid. Penguins 2-0.
1:54: Sing-song "Lunnnnn-Kiiisssst" chants start back up.
1:40: Lundqvist is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:20: After icing the puck, the Penguins call time out to get a breather.
1:00: A slapper by Girardi from the center point is blocked by Letang and cleared down ice.
0:53: Malkin chases down the puck on the right wing and steals it off McDonagh. He fight off a check and chip it into the open net for one of us:
Letang gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
0:00: End of game. Boyle has to be held back by an official. Malkin jabs him with a stick from the bench. Nothing comes of it. Penguins 3, Rangers 0.
-Puck possession. Pure and simple puck possession. That's what this game came down to. The Penguins held on to the puck and did so most of the night in the Rangers' zone. They made life easier for Marc-Andre Fleury and battered Henrik Lundqvist until he broke.
-Was there one absolute reason the Penguins won the puck possession battle? Not really. But there were several really good ones.
-Sidney Crosby. He had by far his best game of the series. He was a force anytime he stepped on the ice. If not for Lundqvist, Crosby would have finally broken through with a goal. Crosby won most of the one-on-one battles he engaged in and dominated the puck in the offensive zone.
-Line changes were a bit reason for that as well. Crosby and Chris Kunitz were on the same line most of the night but they had a rotation on the right with with Lee Stempniak, Brian Gibbons and Evgeni Malkin mostly. When Malkin was on that line, the Rangers looked overwhelmed at times.
-Gibbons insertion into the lineup in place of Tanner Glass boosted the puck possession game as well. Gibbons is much better with handling the puck and creating things with it than Glass. And with the officials calling things pretty tightly, Glass' already limited value would have taken a plummet in this game had he played given his physical nature. Gibbons and Marcel Goc were teamed up on the penalty kill which was tested early and often in the first period and logged a lot of time, much of which saw them keep the puck away from the Rangers.
-Kris Letang. In a season in which he has battled knee and elbow injuries as well as a stroke, Letang doesn't have much of a sample size when trying to determine which was his best game of the season. This might have been his best offering of the 2013-14 campaign. He was composed when he had the puck and picked the right moments to be aggressive with it. As a result, he came through with a goal and two assists.
-Olli Maatta and Matt Niskanen rebounded after a pretty rotten Game 1. They were composed with the puck and won the majority of puck battles.
-The second and third lines. The Penguins' middle six forwards benefited from the Penguins loading up on the top line and created several of their own chances. Jussi Jokinen, James Neal each had a ton of quality chances with five-on-five play.
-Where would the Penguins be without Jokinen's offense this postseason? He has picked up a lot of the slack with Malkin and Crosby being hemmed in much of the time.
-Fatigue on the Rangers' end. Head coach Alain Vigneault was outright asked if his team was tired, he responded:
"Was our goaltender tired? He was on top of his game. He wasn’t tired. I don’t think anyone else should be tired. He’s played every minute of these playoffs. So if he’s not tired, nobody else should be."
-We take that to mean that the team is tired and it's inexcusable. Regardless, the Penguins took things the Rangers physically and wore them down a bit.
-Fleury was fantastic but he was not tested quite like Lundqvist was. Fleury made some saves with bodies crashing in but he wasn't forced to stop many bang-bang passing plays like Lundqvist. We're not dismissing Fleury's shutout. He earned it. But he wasn't that busy. He virtually said the same thing to reporters after the game.
-Officials really set a tone for this game by calling six minors in the first period. The teams seemed to respond to that and mostly stayed away from anything close to post-whistle dust-up.
-Derek Dorsett's penalty might land him a spot in the press box for Game 3. That was as brain dead of a moment we saw in the playoffs this year.
-Ditto Dan Carcillo. Officials didn't want to put up with his act tonight and gave him two minors.
-The Penguins did a good job of containing the Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello line. That trio barely got a sniff at the net. The Penguins didn't really so much contain them as keep the puck away from them really.
-The Rangers' beleaguered power play continued to be ... beleaguered. After going 0 for 4 tonight's it extended its skid to 0 for 29. They had a big hand in making the Penguins' penalty kill look good tonight.
-As much as Crosby's game has been off this postseason, the Rangers are missing Rick Nash a bunch. He has offered next to nothing in this series. Ditto Martin St. Louis.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 35-22.
-The Penguins have a 64-41 lead in attempted shots.
-Crosby and Richard each led the game with six shots.
-Paul Martin led the game with 26:42 of ice time.
-Dan Girardi led the Rangers with 24:00.
-The Penguins had 35-31 lead in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Brandon Sutter is 9 for 13 (69 percent).
-Dominic Moore was 5 for 9 (56 percent).
-Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot each led the game with three blocked shots.
-The Penguins recorded their 21st postseason shutout in franchise history.
-Fleury recorded his seventh career shutout and moved past Tom Barrasso for first place on the franchise' career shutout list.
-Letang scored his 15th career postseason goal and tied Larry Murphy for first place on the franchise's career goal-scoring list for defensemen.
-Jokinen extended his scoring streak to six games.