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Rangers Take Game 1 Against Penguins 2-1

The Rangers have won 17 of their last 26 playoff games played at MSG.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin)

 

The sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden were barely in their seats, when just 28 seconds in, the Rangers struck. Dan Girardi passed the puck to Rick Nash, who sped across the Pittsburgh blue line and let fly with a shot. Marc-Andre Fleury made a pad save, but the rebound came out way too far and a hustling Derick Brassard caught up with it first and deposited it into the Penguin net for an early 1-0 Blueshirt lead. Only Ed Hospodar, who scored 27 seconds into a playoff game against the Kings in 1981, scored quicker as a Ranger.

The Garden crowd exploded with the goal and the chants of “Let’s Go Rangers” filled the air.

The Penguins then started to play chippy hockey and used their sticks to slash many a Ranger. This tactic was to try and take the Ranger speed game away from them. All it did, was give the Rangers a total of five power plays.

And on the third one, the Rangers made Pittsburgh pay. Mats Zuccarello passed to Keith Yandle, who set up Ryan McDonagh, whose blast from the point got past Fleury for the second goal of the game for the Rangers.

And that was how the first period ended, with the Rangers up 2-0.

The second period was a lot tighter, as Pittsburgh put on more pressure, took no penalties and fired the puck at Henrik Lundqvist. The King kept the Penguins off the board, until Blake Comeau put in a rebound of a Ben Lovejoy shot, as Dan Boyle was occupied by Maxim Lapierre in front of the Ranger net. Lapierre was playing his usual “Nudge” game. Yapping at the Blueshirts in both French and English, trying to get under the skin of the Rangers and push them off of their game. It did not work.

In the third period Dan Girardi, who had played all 82 games for the Rangers this season, blocked a shot, but took the puck off his face. He left the ice with the help of Team Trainer Jim Ramsey and went to the Ranger locker room and did not return to the ice.

We are still waiting for an update on the status of Dan Girardi. All we know is what Head Coach Alain Vigneault explained in his postgame news conference. That the dentist is looking at Girardi.

 

Scoring:

NYR: Derick Brassard (1) Assisted by Rick Nash & Dan Girardi

NYR: Ryan McDonagh (1) Assisted by Keith Yandle & Mats Zuccarello

PITT: Blake Comeau (1) Assisted by Ben Lovejoy & Nick Spaling

 

Team Stats                              PITT                              NYR

Shots on Goal                         25                                  38

Power Play                              0 for 1                           1 for 5

Hits                                         32                                  32

Giveaways                              7                                    11

Takeaways                             7                                    8

Face Off Wins                        38                                  28

Blocked Shots                         11                                  22

 

Goalie Stats:

Marc-Andre Fleury: 36 Saves on 38 Shots for a SV% of .947

Henrik Lundqvist: 24 Saves on 25 Shots for a SV% of .960

 

3 Stars of the Game:

3rd Star: Marc-Andre Fleury: 36 Saves on 38 Shots for a SV% of .947

2nd Star: Ryan McDonagh: 1 Goal

1st Star: Derick Brassard 1 Goal

 

Broadway Bits:

The Rangers have won 17 of their last 26 playoff games played at MSG

They also have a record of 29-11-1 in Game 1s  played at home in franchise history

The Rangers are 41-6-3 in games in which they have scored the first goal

They are also 29-2-3 in games in which they were leading after the first period

The Blueshirts have won 37 out of 38 regular season and playoff games in which they led after two periods

Derick Brassard had a goal, five shots on goal and led all Rangers with 12 face off wins in 15:45 of ice time

Ryan McDonagh scored his first game winning playoff goal, had four shots on goal, had four shots on goal, two hits and posted a plus one rating in a team high of 25:36 of ice time

Alain Vigneault earned his 51st career playoff victory, which tied him with former Ranger head coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Roger Neilson.

Rick Nash had an assist, four shots on goal, two takeaways and two hits in 15:56 of ice time

Dan Girardi had an assist, six blocked shots, two hits and posted a plus one rating in 18:37

Keith Yandle had a power play assist, two shots on goal, two hits and two blocks in 20:38 of ice time

Mats Zuccarello had an assist, one shot on goal in 16:50 of ice time

The Rangers lead the best of seven First Round Playoff Series: 1 -0 and the series will continue on Saturday April 16th

 

From the Post-game Interviews:

Alain Vigneault, New York Rangers Head Coach

 

On matchups …

 

“For us, we are talking about trying to play against players like Crosby and Malkin and their line mates.  You want to try to outnumber them as much as you can.  I wouldn’t say there was any specific matchup I was looking for, but I was looking for numbers and pace.  I think that’s the best way to counter that.”

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“It was definitely a good start.  We were looking to have a good start.  We knew that we were going to be in a battle.  We knew that obviously they wanted to crash Hank’s (Lundqvist) crease, put a lot of pressure there.  They know we play whistle to whistle and they were trying after the whistle to get some stuff going, but we are not going to get involved.  We are going to play whistle to whistle.  We are going to play a fast-paced game, like we have done all year.”

 

More on tonight’s game…

 

“I thought we had some good looks in the third (for the opportunity) to make it 3-1.  Their goaltender Fleury made some good saves.  When they did get some looks, I thought Hank was real focused and real sharp.”

 

  • Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers defenseman/captain

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“We put a couple goals [in] there in the first period, and got the crowd and momentum on our side.  We got away from our game a little bit in the second.  Credit them, they had some good structure in the neutral zone, we couldn’t get pucks behind them as much as we like to.  They capitalized on one, and we found a way to get through that third period.  But, you get the nerves out, you get the hits and the bumps going.  I thought guys were real good with the puck today for the majority of the game.”

 

On the importance of winning Game 1…

 

“It’s the most important thing here: you find a way to win.  We’ve got one, and now our focus switches to Game 2 on Saturday.”

 

More on tonight’s game…

 

“We’ve been in those situations before, it’s a matter of not straying away from your structure, not straying away from our strengths.  We know that we’re a good skating team.  If we can get out of our zone clean and get through the neutral zone, we can wear teams down in the offensive zone.  I thought we did a good job, even with the one goal lead there in the third, playing well in the offensive zone, and spending some time there.”

 

  • Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers goaltender

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“You are anxious before you start, our emotions. We aren’t really sure what to expect. When we go out and play our first period like that I think it helps everyone to kind of find their game and get going and it’s just great to see. It gets the building going and get our confidence right away in this game.”

 

On stopping Pittsburgh’s offensive attempts…

 

“I felt we did a great job of keeping them to the outside and when we needed to making some big blocks on the PK in the second. We knew after the first period that they were going to push us back a little bit. I thought we controlled the game really well for the first 20 to 30 minutes and then they started coming a little bit more. We played a really smart game and it was a good start.”

 

On winning Game 1…

 

It’s always important to build in a series. [You] start with one and you try to feel good about yourself and your performance and when you win you definitely feel a lot better. But it’s just one, so we’ll have another good practice tomorrow and then we’ll get ready for another one. It was definitely a good start.”

 

  • Derek Stepan, New York Rangers forward/alternate captain

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“We did a really good job of puck management, of managing the puck all night, making sure we chipped the pucks in, and forechecking.”

 

More on tonight’s game…

 

“You have to be able to play any type of game. As I said, I think we did a lot of good things tonight.”

 

On the fourth line…

 

“Going forward they are going to be a big part of our team and we need them to play well.”

 

On the fast start to the game…

 

“Definitely the energy was great. The Garden always seems to be rocking in the playoffs.”

 

  • Derick Brassard, New York Rangers forward

 

On the start of tonight’s game…

 

“I think it’s a privilege to start the game.  I thought the five guys on the ice, we did a good job to get our team going.  I give a lot of credit to Rick (Nash).  He didn’t shoot to score there.  He shot for a rebound, he did it on purpose.  It was just right there for the rebound.”

 

On scoring the first goal of tonight’s game…

 

“I don’t know what happened; I would have to check the replay there.  I was wide open in the middle.  I was just driving to the net there, and I got a lucky bounce.  I was just really excited to get us going.”

 

 

 

 

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“I think we controlled the momentum of the game pretty much the whole time.  Especially in the second period, even after they score their goal, I think we used our speed.  We cycled the puck, we were playing around their net I think for a big part of the game.  That’s what we need to do.  Every time we turn the puck over in the neutral zone, that’s what they want.  They want to turn back.  Crosby, Malkin – they want to turn back (and then) they’re going to have some speed, they’re going to have better scoring chances.  We played a solid game.  It was a really good effort, but now we have to put it behind us.  We’re going to enjoy it tonight, and tomorrow is another day.”

 

  • Mike Johnston, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“It was a combination of the first shot [for the Rangers] going in and giving them some momentum on their ice. The momentum, the crowd, the surge, and those penalties – they [the Rangers] earned it. It took a lot of momentum away from our team. Key players couldn’t get on the ice, so certainly that was a key factor in the start of the game for sure. In the second and third, we certainly got better. Our game started to come as we played them 5-on-5 which was a good sign, a positive sign. But we need to look at the whole game, including penalties. I thought maybe two of them were bad penalties for sure.”

 

On momentum…

“I think the initial shift was tentative, but then you give back when the crowd starts to surge like that. You have to rely on the playoff experience in the room to settle things down, and know what you are supposed to do in these moments. A lot of those things you are supposed to do in those moments is take charge of the puck, take responsibility for the puck, make sure the puck gets into the space behind traffic, and make sure to work them in their zone. [You have to] take the momentum away, quiet the crowd down, and get some shots. Those are the things we need to do.”

 

  • Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins forward/captain

 

 

On Marc-Andre Fleury…

 

“He was solid. He’s been doing that all year for us so I don’t think it’s anything new for us. It was quite a storm there early on and we did a good job of just sticking with it and staying focused and it allowed us time to get ourselves back in the game.”

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“You have to get pucks behind them and really work their D. Their best defense was puck possession and holding onto it in our end. Once we did have possession down there I don’t think we weren’t able to generate. I thought we were (able to), but it wasn’t enough.”

 

  • Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender

 

On Pittsburgh’s play tonight…

 

“It was better in the second and the third.  We were more disciplined.  We had the puck a little more, we scored a goal, and we had some more chances.  I think we can play with them, we just have to be ready to go from the first minute.”

 

On the Rangers second goal tonight…

 

“I think it just squeaked through a player there and I just picked it up too late and it was in already.  A little bit of a lucky bounce there, I think.”

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