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Game 4 Recap: Penguins blow Rangers off the ice, take 3-1 series lead

It was all Pittsburgh in this game, as they jump all over Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers by a 7-2 final score

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

It looked like it might have been a long night for the Penguins when the Rangers scored on the very first shot of the game. But after that bump in the road, it was the home team that opened up the gates and ran NYR starting goalie Igor Shesterkin out of the game early for the second game in a row to emphatically take Game 4 and serious control of the series.

The Rangers struck just 2:06 in, after Jeff Carter and Mike Matheson failed to clear the zone. Braden Schneider got the puck off the wall and into space for Alexis Lafreniere to fire a hard shot past the right handed catching glove of Louis Domingue and open the scoring early.

Later in the first, the Penguins struck on the power play. Sidney Crosby from right in front jammed the puck into the net. Igor Shesterkin did well to use his whole leg and glove go into the net and drag the puck out to obscure showing it go across the line. After a review a very close look, however, one can see Crosby shoot the puck over the line and Shesterkin bring it back out from way back in. 1-1 game.

Early in the second the Penguins kept piling up the chances and took the lead. After Jeff Carter was sprung on a clean breakaway, his backhand shot beat Shesterkin but hit the post and somehow stayed out. Pittsburgh stuck with it, and a deflection in front threw the speed of the puck off what Shesterkin was expecting and fluttered over his pad and in the net to make the score 2-1.

Sensing blood in the water, the Pens pounced on the Rangers again in the next shift and scored just 24 seconds later. Crosby makes a beautiful short touch pass to Bryan Rust. Rust makes the play to fire the puck down for Jake Guentzel charging the net and Guentzel just had to redirect it into the open net for a 3-1 lead.

The Pens keep pouring it on, and it’s Mark Friedman who steps up in the zone and unleashes a shot that Shesterkin somehow can’t stop. A bit of traffic in front of him, but the NHL’s vaunted best goalie is in struggle mode, and everyone can feel it. 4-1 Pens.

New York claws back towards staying competitive with a very lucky goal, Adam Fox centers the puck, it hits off the back off Matheson’s skate and jumps into the net. Good things happen when the puck gets put to the net. 4-2 Pens still lead.

That bad bounce barely phases the Pens’ in their second period onslaught. With just over a minute left, Kris Letang just slings a puck on net, and Danton Heinen makes a really nice deflection on the bouncing puck and it’s in the net to make it 5-2.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Rangers can’t get to the lockerroom without taking more damage. Carter wins a faceoff and finally scores a goal in this game when he tips in Jason Zucker’s shot.

The third period is quiet until Kasperi Kapanen and Evgeni Malkin play a two-man game with the Rangers mainly just standing around and watching Malkin wire a backhand shot to the top shelf on Alexandar Georgiev to extend the lead to 7-2 with 7:38 left in the game.

That would be it for the scoring with the Penguins taking both home games by putting up seven goals in each contest to flex their offensive muscle.

Some thoughts

  • The Rangers have scored the game’s first goal in three of the four games so far. But scoring first hasn’t really mattered all that much, in all four games the second goal of the game has tied the game at 1-1 every time, and often fairly quickly thereafter.
  • Ryan Lindgren (day-to-day injury) was again unable to play for the Rangers, which meant Patrick Nemeth was back in the lineup. That’s a positive for Pittsburgh, as Nemeth has been having a rough series. He took his fourth minor penalty in four playoff games with a needless high stick on Evan Rodrigues in the first period to allow the power play which was Crosby’s tying goal.
  • The caliber and class of Crosby’s play right now really just can’t be under-stated. New York has absolutely no answers for him right now. Everyone who picked NYR to win this series (myself included) thoroughly under-estimated the degree that Crosby and Guentzel could take-over and dictate play so handily.
  • It defies logic that NYR coach Gerard Gallant didn’t use his timeout to break up any of the momentum that the Pens were stockpiling. Guentzel made it a 3-1 game 14 seconds after Matheson had scored, all early in the second period. That would have been a good time for it. Or after Friedman made it 4-1, or Heinen’s score changed it to 5-2. Instead, he just sat there and watched the game spiral out of control.
  • The Pens lit up Shesterkin and he was certainly not playing well, but he was getting next to no support. Crosby and Guentzel scored being unmarked right in front of the goal. Three goals were deflected on the way in. The headline is the goalie who got rattled, but from faceoff losses to puck-watching to just losing coverage...The Rangers are a hot mess right now from start to bottom.
  • Here’s what Shesterkin was dealing with. The Pens did an excellent job of insulating Louis Domingue and not asking too much of their goalie. With a 15-0 high danger chance advantage (5v5) through two periods, it didn’t really matter who the goalies were tonight.
  • It’s tough to remember, but the Rangers scored on the first shot of game. From there, it was shutdown city. That point on Domingue being insulated
  • Which makes one wish that Game 5 started about 15 minutes after tonight’s game ended...But it won’t. NYR gets to go home, gets to regroup, maybe can get Lindgren back. This series is not over, but the Pens have absolutely steamrolled the Rangers in carrying the course of play, outside of about two periods (P1, Game 1, P2, Game 3), Pittsburgh has been the superior team for most of the game time.

The good times are rolling in Pittsburgh. What was a 1-1 series on Saturday morning now is a resounding and emphatic 3-1 series lead. The possible put-away game is Wednesday night in Manhattan.