The statistics really tell the story here.
The New York Rangers are 0-for-37 on their last 37 power plays, including surrendering a soul-crushing shorty in the dying minutes of the second period to break a 1-1 tie.
Shots: 27 Pittsburgh, 15 New York
Goals: 4 Pittsburgh, 2 New York
The stats were a bit one-sided and Pittsburgh did dominate most of the play, but they also were on the receiving end of some good puck luck. Two-and-a-half minutes in, a broken play finished with Malkin doing a sweeping 360 backhand and sliding the biscuit fortuitously through Henrik’s five-hole. On the third goal, Jussi Jokinen threw a spin-around wrister on net from the half-wall; it hit Staal’s shin-pad and deflected through the wickets of Lundqvist.
But, puck luck aside, the Rangers have to be better. They are 0-for-37 on their last 37 power play attempts. They mustered just 15 shots on goal. They made pre-season-ish careless plays in dangerous areas. They coughed up a clear-cut breakaway on their power play entry and capped it off by allowing the trail-guy, Brandon Sutter, to clean up a rebound. On the power play.
Pittsburgh is too good of a team. They have two top-five-on-the-planet hockey players and a supporting cast that’s put them in the top 5 in the NHL power rankings nearly every year for the past decade. But Columbus showed that they can be pressed, hit, challenged, and pushed to the brink.
If New York can channel their inner Columbus — I believe they’re a similar, but better team — they can transform this into a series. If not, they’ll be dropping their fourth straight and trying to channel a tight draw into the shortgrass for the rest of the spring. It’s supposed to be mid-70s in NYC this weekend.