Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Good Start and Better Finish

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Good Start and Better Finish

Article excerpt

PITTSBURGH - The Rangers were good at the start and good at the end, just good enough to get through a rough middle.

Derick Brassard scored the overtime winner at 3:06 as the Rangers beat the Penguins, 3-2, Friday night at Consol Energy Center in Game 1 of their Metropolitan Division final. It was the Rangers' first extra period in these playoffs.

Brassard connected on a rising shot that was initially waved off. The Rangers would have won anyway as Benoit Pouliot also put the puck in the net 11 seconds later.

Game 2 is Sunday night before the series shifts to Madison Square Garden for Monday night's Game 3 as the Rangers will play six playoff games in nine days.

Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves for the Rangers, sending the game to overtime with a point-blank save on Lee Stempniak with 11 seconds left in regulation, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves. The Rangers overcame an 0-for-4 power-play performance that yielded just four shots.

The Rangers were 3-for-29 on the power play in their seven games against the Flyers and came into Game 1 against the Penguins on a 0- for-21 slump dating to Game 2 of the first round.

Coach Alain Vigneault was adamant before Friday's game that one series had nothing to do with the next.

"It's a brand new series," Vigneault said. "In our minds, our power play was a real good weapon for us during the year. We might have had a real good start against Philly and didn't continue that in the latter games. But that series is behind us and we're focusing on Pittsburgh and what they do on the kill."

But it wasn't just the power play that was an issue, it was allowing the potent Penguins' power play four chances, even if they couldn't score, either. The Penguins were 6-for-29 in their six- game win over the Blue Jackets in the first round and were tied with the Capitals in the regular season with an NHL-best 23.4 percent success rate.

The Rangers showed no ill effects from their series against the Flyers by taking control quickly in the first period and opening a 2- 0 lead.

Of course, that was nothing new for the Penguins. They twice rallied from two-goal deficits against the Blue Jackets, a series in which a two-goal lead was blown in all but Game 6. …

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