The Rangers defeated Pittsburgh 2-1 in Game 3 to take a matching 2-1 series lead. Goals from Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider staked the Rangers to a two-goal lead heading into the third period, which turned out to be enough of a cushion to withstand Pittsburgh’s onslaught in the final 12 or so minutes.
The first period was a low event affair, especially so for Pittsburgh, who did not register their first shot on goal until over 15 minutes had passed (and even that first shot came from center ice). The Rangers didn’t generate a ton offensively, either, but they grabbed an early lead 8:43 in when Keith Yandle threaded a beautiful pass to a streaking Carl Hagelin, who broke in and wound up for a slap shot that beat Marc-Andre Fleury’s five-hole. If you missed Yandle’s pass, check it out; it was quite lovely:
— Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) April 21, 2015
Chris Kreider doubled the Rangers lead just over 11 minutes into the second period, when he collected the carom off the end boards from an intentionally-wide point shot by Marc Staal and deposited it past Fleury. It was a pretty nifty play by Kreider to chip the puck in out of the air before Fleury had time to cover the post.
The Rangers’ propensity for going into a defensive shell when protecting a third period lead created a credible cause for concern heading into the final 20 minutes. While it took a while for Pittsburgh to start generating sustained pressure and dangerous scoring chances, once they got going with about 12 minutes to play it never ceased.
Patric Hornqvist’s goal with 6:48 to play didn’t seem to persuade Alain Vigneault and his team to protect a now one-goal lead any differently, but Pittsburgh ran out of time/the Rangers held on to conclude Game 3.
Numbers and Notes
- 5v5 shot attempts through two periods: NYR 29, PIT 19. 5v5 shot attempts in the third period: NYR 10, PIT 26.
- Overall, that adds up to NYR 39, PIT 45 (46.4 CF%). Adjusting for the score sways the possession battle in the Rangers’ favor, though (52.1 CF%).
- The first two periods were very enjoyable. This might be one reason why:
Pens get last change. Crosby and Malkin have combined for 2 minutes vs. Yandle/Hunwick and 20+ vs. Staal, Boyle, Girardi, McDonagh. Unreal.
— Sam Ventura (@stat_sam) April 21, 2015
- I don’t know if that’s something more to credit Alain Vigneault for or chastise Mike Johnston for. I’ll go with both.
- The top two lines led the charge for the Rangers tonight, which is always a good sign. Kevin Hayes’ line struggled for the second straight game. Hayes and St. Louis in particular had a handful of rough moments.
- If you are looking for some entertaining analysis of this series, I can’t recommend Dejan Kovacevic’s Twitter feed enough.
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