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RECAP: GAME ONE: Blueshirts win 3-2 in OT, lead series 1-0.

When the Penguins look bad, they look terrible. When they look good, they look unbeatable. It isn’t even a game-by-game thing; it is period-by-period.

This game for example:

First period: Down 2-0. Looked horrible.
Second period: Tied it up 2-2. Outshot the Rangers 15-4.
Third period: Outshot the Rangers 12-8. Couldn’t get the go-ahead goal.
Overtime: Lost due to a defensive breakdown.

The Rangers didn’t exactly light the world on fire, but clearly they didn’t have to. They played a solid road game, and their team defense was outstanding.

The King on his throne

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Lundqvist came into CONSOL and got the Rangers out of the starting blocks. He had 34 saves, including seven big ones while the Rangers were shorthanded.

Malkin and Crosby

Maybe it’s because the Rangers weren’t chasing any matchups, but they’re not worried about getting in Malkin and Crosby’s face with annoying checking forwards. Malkin looked like he was ready to roll but only mustered up 2 shots. Meanwhile, Crosby looked as good as he has in these playoffs. The -3 is unfortunate. Remember when he was -5 against San Jose? Relax.

Special Teams

Both teams went 0 for 4. We didn’t know the Rangers’ power play was the hockey version of “Salem.” Just awful.

Game Two is an if-you-don’t-win-look-out

While this game felt like it was 8 out of 10 on the intensity scale, Sunday and Monday should send this series into orbit. The Penguins face massive pressure Sunday night, because dropping 2-0 to the Rangers then heading to MSG for Game Three the very next day is bad news.

This one:

FIRST PERIOD

Gotta appreciate Jeff Jimerson’s attempts to get the crowd singing along. He gave them center stage for an early verse of the anthem, but they pulled an Ashlee Simpson and bailed. The flag experiment was attempted again, as well.

Letang had a grade-A chance in the first minute or so, but he missed the net big-time. Vitale was kneed, and it looked like he was genuinely hurt this time. He came back to hit the post later in the third period.

Five minutes in, Kunitz was going full throttle into the Rangers’ zone but made the classic mistake of shooting it into Dan Girardi’s foot. The Rangers took it the other way, but the Pens had their D back, so it shouldn’t have been anything special. Instead, Benoit Pouliot fluttered one past MAF.

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1-0.

MAF left his crease on the next play, and it was almost 2-0 that fast. A little later, Tanner Glass delivered the Penguins’ only hit of the game when he punished Marc Staal.

Pens got a PP when Dominic Moore decked Kunitz in front. Marty St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello had the best chances during those two minutes. Pens killed off a penalty later when Bennett went off.

Then came a screwjob of sorts. The officiating crew made a mistake on a hand-pass call with Maatta trying to keep the puck in the Rangers’ zone. The whistle blew, the officials realized the mistake, and gave the Penguins an offensive-zone faceoff. The Rangers won that faceoff and eventually dumped it back into the Pens’ zone…

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Richards with unlimited patience. 2-0.

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The boos rained down as the crowd felt the refs had crossed them. Except a 13,000-word column on Deadspin about how sports fans boo refs.

Martin St. Louis

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He’s too good. He went undrafted undoubtedly because of his size and has had to use his hockey sense and speed to get to scoring areas and set himself up for success. Now that his beard is showing some gray and his legs aren’t what they used to be, he’s a case study on how a veteran can use his experience in his twilight years to still have an impact on the game. Just watch him the rest of this series. Amazing.

SECOND PERIOD

Kunitz went off for a late hold in the first. But then Brassard evened that up with a hook early in the second, and it was all killed.

Maatta smacked one off the pipe somewhere in there. Two posts hit behind Lundqvist for the Pens this game.

St. Louis and Bortuzzo had a mini battle later. Bortuzzo slashed his ankle during a false-start faceoff. Marty was incredulous that neither referee saw anything. When the puck was finally dropped, Marty was jammed and eventually landed an elbow into Bortuzzo, and he was going to the box. Lundqvist came up huge for the Rangers with a big save on Neal, and then one on Jokinen after the penalty had expired.

And then finally the Rangers made a mistake. Ryan McDonagh pinched, got caught, and the Pens headed the other way. Goc led the charge and dished it to Bennett, who got lucky when his drop pass was just left sitting inside the blue line but Stempniak swooped in to pick it up. Stemp gave himself room, went to the backhand, and beat King Henrik.

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2-1.

Both of Shero’s deadline acquisitions factored in on the goal. Marcel Goc is going to score a huge goal this series.

Jussi Jokinen went to the box maybe because he wanted to watch the Rangers’ horrible PP from a different angle.

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Crosby being held. No big deal.

With about 6 minutes left, it was time for the Pens to tie it up. Kris Letang started it, but Malkin took over. He fed it to Neal who one-touched it back to Malkin in top gear going through the neutral zone. He gave it to Jokinen crossing, who settled on the boards and surveyed the scene…

Neal completely forgotten about.

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The refs went to Toronto.

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That’s a goal. 2-2.

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The Rangers were forced to put their PP on the ice again when Bennett went off for a ridiculous roughing call during a scrum.

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Pens outshot the Rangers 15-4 in the second.

THIRD PERIOD

MAF made his biggest save of the game in the third on Stepan, after a rough Paul Martin turnover. Then MAF had to make more saves right on his doorstep. Marty St. Louis was everywhere.

MAF vs. Henrik

Both goalies were locked in. Fleury made a pointblank save on St. Louis, while Henrik flashed the glove on a slap shot from Malkin on a penalty kill.

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Joe Vitale, instead of skating behind the net and grinding himself down, took a shot on net

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The Pens’ PP had a chance to save the day a couple minutes into the third when Brian Boyle went off for a trip. Malkin got a shot through. ( This was Henrik’s glove save we mentioned. )

Homestretch featured both teams playing it safe. If Crosby farted, Marc Staal knew what he ate for dinner. Crosby did find a way to get loose very late. He took a check and got the puck to Stempniak.

This may have been the save of the game:

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Lundqvist thought it was in.

OVERTIME

Overtime was quick. And we did not enjoy it. Beau Bennett probably had the best chance for the Penguins, but Henrik was there.

Rob Scuderi

You hate to scapegoat, but this is the playoffs, and it’s where scapegoats are born. Scuderi made two really bad plays in OT.

1. He was on a shift with Neal – Malkin – Jokinen. Malkin had possession of the puck, and he looked to the point, which was wide open:

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Scuderi isn’t in the zone. He’s probably afraid of getting smoked by the Zuccarello line. This is a huge issue.

2. Later on the shift, Scuderi with a lazy attempt to wrap the puck around:

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That is a rookie mistake by a guy the Penguins signed FOR THE PLAYOFFS. The turnover was so bad, the Rangers scored twice on it. No idea why Bortuzzo left his feet, either.

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GAME.

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  • The Rangers 15 blocked shots.
  • Carcillo turned down his dick meter for Game One.
  • Ref Steve Kozari is having a tough playoffs. First he suffered a black eye, and then he got smoked last night:

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  • Organist played “Kashmir” in the first period.
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