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Game 3 Recap: Pens fight back, defeat Rangers 3-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the New York Rangers 3-1 in Game 3 of the playoffs thanks to goals from Sidney Crosby, Matt Cullen and Kris Letang.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 -

Lineup updates

The biggest lineup note would be Matt Murray making his NHL playoff debut, taking over for Jeff Zatkoff.

For the Rangers, captain Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup in favor of Dylan McIlrath.

The Penguins maligned defense remained the same in personnel and pairings, despite the rough Game 2's for Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley .

Evgeni Malkin was used as a center and had a new right-winger in Eric Fehr. Bryan Rust dropped back down to his common line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnhackl.

The Highlights

The Rangers strike first (for a goal that would count) in the first minute of the second period, Kevin Klein tosses a nice pass into an open area that Rick Nash skates into and beats Murray high-glove on the breakaway to make it 1-0. Oh, and did I mention the Pens were on the power play at this point?

The Pens would tie the game late in the 2nd period on the power play, with Phil Kessel feathering a great pass to Sidney Crosby who gets a stick on it from right in front and past Henrik Lundqvist to make the game 1-1.

Matt Cullen pokes the puck by a converging Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle to give himself a mini-breakaway and Cullen scores, because all he does is make great things happen. 2-1 Pens with 15:44 left in the game.

Kris Letang tacks on the empty netter to finish it off.

Some Thoughts

  • Great pace to start the game with only 5 whistles in the first 10 minutes of the game and some solid end-to-end action on each side prior to Marc Staal taking a penalty and then Sheary taking a double-minor for high-sticking while the Pens were on the power play.
  • Another game, another crucial review, NYR scores on the aforementioned power play, but the Penguins immediately challenge for offsides, which video review confirms.
  • Maatta's visible struggles continue, he's very susceptible to getting skated-wide if the opponent uses speed, Maatta just doesn't seem to have the gear to match. Though Maatta and the coaches insist he's 100%, he sure doesn't look like himself when he's at 100%.
  • Interesting wrinkle halfway through the second period with Sheary jumping up to the Crosby - Patric Hornqvist line and Chris Kunitz joining Malkin-Fehr. Not sure who that was designed to jump-start, but probably the most noticeable player of those 6 early (at even-strength in a positive way) would have been perhaps the most unexpected one in Sheary's strong play.
  • For the first time in the series, the Penguins really carried play at 5v5 and coasted away with the shots battle.
  • Going in an 0-1 hole against the Rangers, on the road, is never easy. The Pens kept chipping, kept working, getting the tying goal in the 2nd was huge. Playing solid defensively in the 3rd was even better.
  • For what's it's worth: Pens are now 3-0 this season at Madison Square Garden.

Luckily, this series finally gets into a quick rythym and we'll see the next game on Thursday night. Hopefully it will be a lot like this one.