Down 2 games to 1, and shutout for two straight games, the New York Rangers needed to dig deep for Game 4. They failed and miserably so, generating a declining amount of shots each period; 6 to 5 to 4. Combine that with a whole host of poor puck decisions- resulting in an absurd but fair 25 giveaways, and it wasn't pretty.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, kept their foot on the throttle. Fueled by their top line of Chris Kunitz (1 goal, 3 shots, 6 hits), Sidney Crosby (2 assists, 6 shot attempts, 67% faceoff wins) and Evgeni Malkin (13!! shot attempts, 1 goal and 1 assist), the Penguins had enough to win this game in a convincing fashion.
The past few games probably speak more to the Rangers rolling over and dying, but let's not forget who's put the proverbial knife in their collective gut to make this happen. It's James Neal outworking Marc Staal and getting the puck to Jussi Jokinen. It's Malkin skating around Ryan McDonagh and by Martin St. Louis. It's Kris Letang taking advantage of a dumb decision by Rick Nash to bump the puck up to a speedy Brian Gibbons who will churn back down the ice and have Brandon Sutter wisely follow it up. It's all over the place, and the Pens deserve a lot of credit for making the Rangers look so poor.
Marc-Andre Fleury didn't see hardly any work, and his misplay of the angle on Mats Zuccarello 's shot to make it 3-2 late in the game doesn't leave a great taste in anyone's mouth, but the fact remains he did enough to win. He'll have to be better in the future, but in the future he'll get in the game a little more than seeing more action and hopefully it'll result in sharper play.
One development to watch will be Brooks Orpik, who's first game back from injury saw him leave with another injury in the first period. His minutes were picked up largely by Paul Martin (30:07 on the night) and Kris Letang (27:56) who still have not allowed a goal on the ice while playing together and have nicely formed a dominant top pairing.
The series now shifts back to Pittsburgh, where you legitimately have to wonder just how much energy and effort that the Rangers are going to bring to the table. They've had a tough schedule (thanks in large part to losing a Game 6 last series) but just seem to have nothing left in the tank. Their power play is actually legitimately hurting them. Their stars aren't playing worth anything. Tough times on Broadway. Hopefully the Pens learn from NYR's mistake in prolonging series and puts them out of their misery.
7 down, 9 to go.