Malkin's highlight goal not enough as Penguins fall in Game 5
Just when it appeared inevitable the Penguins were going to tie Game 5 of their second-round series with the Rangers, Derick Brassard seized the momentum back for New York.
Brassard's goal was the first of two by the Rangers in a 50-second span that immediately followed a dominant Evgeni Malkin/Sidney Crosby shift. New York took a commanding lead, and the Rangers went on to win 5-1 and force Game 6 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
“Kind of took the life out of the building there,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said, “and we were able to just put it in cruise control after that.
“They were starting to kind of come in and press, and we were getting caught off for some long shifts. You need big goals at key times, and that's what that was.”
Malkin ignited the previously listless Penguins with a highlight-reel goal that had to make Mario Lemieux proud. Trailing 2-0 after a lethargic first period, Malkin's individual effort began a sequence of eight consecutive shots on goal by the Penguins.
Three minutes into the second period, Malkin stickhandled between Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and Staal to get a shot off that goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away, only for Malkin to fire his own rebound in.
Malkin was perhaps even better three shifts later when he and two-time MVP running mate Crosby took the ice for a faceoff in the offensive zone 6:49 into the second period and trailing by a goal. They kept possession for almost 50 seconds, getting two shots on goal.
The Consol Energy Center crowd was thumping, the Penguins appearing ready to suck the remaining life out of a Rangers team that had nearly doubled the Penguins in attempted shots (33-17) before Malkin's goal.
But instead of taking a step toward finishing off the Rangers and advancing to the conference finals, the Rangers promptly took control with their two quick goals, beginning at 7:58.
“The first 10 of the second period, they were all over us,” Brassard said. “And our coaches keep telling us we need a shift to get the momentum back on our side.”
They got that in Brassard's second goal of the game and third of the series.
Soon after, defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored New York's second goal on the power play of Friday's game.
That's notable because it had been 10 games since the Rangers scored a power-play goal. The span of 36 unsuccessful opportunities tied the NHL postseason record. But after Chris Kreider scored midway through the first period, the Rangers made it 2 for 2 with an extra man at 8:48 of the second when McDonagh's harmless-looking shot from the right point beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury high.
After a streak of more than a regulation game's worth of time playing 5 on 4 in which the Rangers were blanked, they scored twice in their first 1:08 of power-play time Friday.
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
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