Injuries force changes to the defense - Jan Rutta and Jeff Petry are unable to play which opens the door for Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman to get back in the lineup.
Here's a look at tonight's line combos ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/tqMMzqvMIx— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 18, 2023
Pittsburgh starts this game in a more impressive fashion than Thursday’s Ranger game, recording four of the first five shots. Jeff Carter even does something good for the first time in recent memory to make a nice centering pass for a great scoring chance for Josh Archibald. Igor Shesterkin shuts it down with a save, but that’s the good news.
The bad news for that fourth line is that Ruhwedel can’t clear the zone, the Rangers snap the puck around a bit and Carter loses coverage on Mika Zibanejad in front of the net, after he had picked up the NYR player, he just kinda slowly made a turn the wrong direction for unknown reasons. Anyways, a quick backhander from Zibanejad gets New York on the board 5:10 into the game.
Another game, another start with ✨ Mika March Magic ✨ pic.twitter.com/k97Ro0nbNE— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 19, 2023
The Penguins get caught with six skaters on the ice and take the game’s first penalty as a result. Luckily, the PK holds up to keep them close early.
Evgeni Malkin pushes a Ranger from behind into the boards, can’t do that. Ranger players protest and Malkin ends up getting four minutes worth of penalties (two for the boarding, two for the rough stuff afterwards) and Ben Harpur earns two minutes for roughing to give NYR two minutes of a 5v4 penalty.
The Pens look like they might escape the period but then Brian Dumoulin’s opportunity to clear the puck turns into a weak pass attempt and that doesn’t get the job done. NY gets the puck back quickly to Artemi Panarin who rips a shot to the short-side of Tristan Jarry. That pushes the score to 2-0 just before the break.
Power play Bread = the best kind. pic.twitter.com/3UR1bDKYQV— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 19, 2023
Shots are 15-12 Penguins overall, not really the worst period just down on the scoreboard due to two familiar figures making key mistakes at key times and some less than inspiring goaltending along the way.
The Pens can’t afford to get too frustrated, but perhaps do take too big of a gamble and get burned. Kris Letang jumps down in the offensive zone and slings a shot that Shesterkin saves. No forwards on the first line drop back to cover whatsoever and NYR embarks on a 3-on-1 rush. Zibanejad feeds Vladimir Tarasenko to hammer one by Jarry. 3-0 game.
3-on-1 and Vladi makes NO MISTAKE. pic.twitter.com/qXbAi3KwKq— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 19, 2023
Vincent Trocheck gets too aggressive and goes at Drew O’Connor hard after a whistle, so the Penguins get a rare power play. NY kills it fairly easily and Trocheck springs an odd-man rush as he’s getting out of the box. Trocheck gives it to Patrick Kane, Kane dishes off a sweet backhand pass to Chris Kreider and he lifts the puck past a helpless Jarry and extend the score to 4-0.
At this point, coach Mike Sullivan has seen enough of Jarry and pulls the goalie for the fourth time in his last 10 games and Casey DeSmith enters the contest.
DeSmith isn’t the answer either, the goalie gets caught giving up some room at the top of the net and Jacob Trouba sneaks a bad angle shot in to make him pay. 5-0 game now with NY pouring it on.
Shesterkin clears the puck over the glass for a second Pittsburgh power play of the game and period, but they don’t come close. They get another crack at it when Rickard Rakell is tripped and it looks even worse. And the Rangers score on the following shift with Kane setting up Panarin for a slam dunk of a goal. 6-0.
That Kaner-Breadman connection. pic.twitter.com/n7ceQT1Uo3— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 19, 2023
The Pens are playing to at least ruin Shesterkin’s shutout attempt, but wouldn’t you know it they can’t even do that. Mikael Granlund gets robbed by the leg on a scorpion save on probably Pittsburgh’s best scoring chance of the game.
The teams trade off a few power plays at this point but nothing happens.
- It’s pretty much this article over and over for the Penguins. If they were a boat, they’d have a few holes where they keep taking on water when Carter, Dumoulin or Jarry play. Not much more to say.
- Didn’t fault Jarry on either goal against in the second period, both on odd-man rushes. Not too much the goalie can do about that with great passing plays moving the puck laterally on him. But both of the first period goals against were of the weaker variety, particularly Zibanejad’s opening goal. A goalie simply has to stop that, in a scoreless game and what was only the second shot Jarry saw. When he let that in, an immediate goal against of questionable quality should have set off warning signs that this might be a disaster.
- And disaster it was, all the worst moments and
- Overall, the Pens go 2-2-0 against the Rangers this season. It wasn’t a satisfying end to the season series with two losses (and such a definitive one tonight), but overall the results aren’t as bad as it might seem in the moment.
Well, the good news is no more Rangers games for a while. Pittsburgh heads back home to meet Ottawa on Monday, where they will desperately need to get back on track before a tough and super-quick western swing through Colorado and Dallas happens next week.