After a disappointing show in the first game, the Penguins proved Saturday night that they will not make it easy for the top-seeded Rangers to advance to the second round.
The Rangers led off the scoring with three minutes left in the first period. Madison Square Garden erupted and it looked like business as usual. It was similar to the Washington Capitals-New York Islanders series. Started the same, but did a complete 180 after first intermission.
There must have been a switch in the locker rooms because the teams that emerged for the second period were not the same. The Penguins played fierce and hard. It completely caught the Rangers off guard, which meant the team performed slow and sloppy. Brandon Sutter took advantage of a power play to tie the game. Sidney Crosby responded three minutes later with another goal to go up 2-1.
Crosby was not finished. He followed through with another goal with two minutes left in the period. 3-1. The Rangers were down two goals and sucked the life out of MSG.
Derek Broussard scored a power play goal three minutes into the third period, but it was greeted with less applause than any other goal. The MSG faithful knew something was not right. The Penguins gifted the Rangers seven power plays with extremely chaotic play, but this was the only time they scored. More is expected from a tough New York crowd.
To add more salt to the wound, Chris Kunitz, known more for his careless plays, scored a power-play goal not long after Broussard to make it 4-2. Any life inside MSG left. Rick Nash scored his first goal of the playoffs with three seconds left in the game, but it was meaningless.
What was different this game? Crosby. Sidney Crosby showed up. Once again, the world is shown that if a team does not apply pressure on Crosby, he will breakout and win the game for his team. Once again, no matter how bad the rest of the Penguins play, it does not matter provided Crosby is allowed to excel.
The Penguins snuck into the playoffs, but as long as they have Crosby, they play as real threat to their opponents. The series now heads to Pittsburgh tied 1-1. What should have been technically an easy series for the Rangers is now a fight for their survival.