Game 4: Pens finally fall, 3-0

| Friday, May 2, 2008

NEW YORK -- It was a vintage, momentum-gaining goal and a clutch playoff performance.

It was Jaromir Jagr at his best.

No organization knows better than the Penguins that on nights like the one he had Thursday at Madison Square Garden, Jagr's teams are tough to beat this time of year.

"He's a driven man right now, there's no question about that," New York Rangers coach Tom Renney said of Jagr, who scored his club's first and third goals, and assisted on center Brandon Dubinsky's back-breaking tally early in the third period in a 3-0 victory against the Penguins.

"Certainly for all the right reasons he wants this team badly to get back into this series."

Despite their loss in Game 4, which snapped a seven-game win streak to open the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Penguins lead this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal, 3-1.

Game 5 is Sunday at Mellon Arena, and captain Sidney Crosby would like his club to "remember there is a price to pay if you want to score goals in the playoffs."

"You have to try to do your best to match their desperation level," Crosby said. "Urgency has to be a little more there.

"We probably have to bring it up a little bit more."

If, as previously speculated, this is Jagr's final playoff run with the Rangers, and maybe in the NHL, he is not going out without supreme effort.

He is pacing all scorers in the playoffs with 15 points. He also leads the Rangers with three goals and seven points in this series - and his second-period goal last night energized the home crowd, and a Rangers squad he seems intent on captaining to the rare comeback from a 3-0 series deficit.

"I didn't feel very well," Jagr said. "But I was telling myself, even if I'm tired those guys on the other side are probably tired, too. I try to help somehow, and I got a lucky goal."

Luck had nothing to do with Jagr's fourth playoff goal at 12:45 of the second period.

He whipped a wrist shot past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after first beating defenseman Sergei Gonchar, then shooting between his legs.

The Rangers were ahead, 1-0.

Jagr spent his first 11 seasons with the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup twice along with five scoring titles and an MVP.

Center Evgeni Malkin would like to add each of those honors to his resume.

First, though, he wants to help the Penguins reach their first Eastern Conference final since 2001.

Malkin nearly pulled the Penguins even, 1-1 late in the second.

After taking a pass from Crosby and breaking into the Rangers' zone, Malkin's shot ended up behind New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist - but not, according to replay officials in Toronto, before the cage was dislodged after defenseman Dan Girardi shoved Malkin into Lundqvist at 17:53.

An on-ice official immediately called for a penalty shot, which Malkin took after a lengthy delay for replay officials at the NHL's offices in Toronto to judge if his goal should count.

It did not, and coach Michel Therrien could not understand the logic behind that ruling.

"That was a turning point," Therrien said. "We could have started the third period with a tied game. Instead we were chasing."

Therrien said he was told "Malkin pushed the goalie."

"That's probably one of the first times I saw a player on a breakaway try to finish his check."

Malkin skated in slowly on his penalty shot and attempted to beat Lundqvist high to the glove side.

Lundqvist was game, and the Rangers preserved a 1-0 lead.

"My bad," Malkin said. "I don't like (breakaways). It was my bad. It was (not poor ice conditions)."

Left wing Petr Sykora's late hooking penalty in the second carried over into the third period, where Dubinsky tallied his fourth goal on a power play at 0:44 to put the Rangers ahead, 2-0.

Jagr scored his fifth playoff goal into an empty net at 19:46.

"We got what we wanted," Jagr said. "It gives us a chance to win the next game. They are still up, 3-1. It doesn't matter if it's 3-0 or 3-1. Nobody really gives us a chance.

"Me personally, I would like to play tomorrow."

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