(2M) Rangers at (3M) Penguins
7 pm ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, MSG
Best-of-7 series tied 1-1
The New York Rangers will try to win back home-ice advantage from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round when they play Game 3 at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.
The Penguins won Game 1 at Madison Square Garden 4-3 in triple overtime on Tuesday. New York responded with a 5-2 win at the Garden on Thursday to even the series.
“Definitely it’s another test, get ready for it,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s a best-of-5 series now. They’ve got home ice. We’ve got to get ready to play a good game tonight. We played two really good games in this building this season so that helps you.”
The Rangers were 1-1-0 in Pittsburgh during the regular season, losing 1-0 on Feb. 26 and winning 3-2 on March 29. Igor Shesterkin was the goalie in each game, allowing three goals on 50 shots.
Shesterkin allowed six goals on 124 shots in the first two games of the series, good for a .952 save percentage.
“Obviously they’re going to have a little jolt from the crowd I’m sure like we did at home,” Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said. “Weather some storms. Once the crowd gets into it, teams a get a little momentum at times, but approach it the same, play hard.”
The Penguins will again have goalie Louis Domingue in net with Tristan Jarry (lower-body injury) and Casey DeSmith (core muscle surgery) unavailable.
Domingue made 17 saves in relief of DeSmith to win Game 1 and gave up five goals on 40 shots in Game 2, his first NHL start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“He’s excited about the opportunity,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think he’s played well to this point. He’s a confident kid and I think that really helps him in this circumstance.”
When a best-of-7 series is tied, the winner of Game 3 holds a series record of 228-110 (67.5 percent), including a 4-3 record in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here are 3 keys for Game 3:
1. What’s so special?
The Rangers are 2-for-5 on the power play and have a shorthanded goal. They’ve held the Penguins to 1-for-6 on their power play, a 5-on-3 goal in Game 1.
Sullivan said after Game 2 that if there is one area of improvement needed for the Penguins it’s on special teams, particularly the penalty kill, which was third in the regular season at 84.4 percent.
“When our penalty kill is at its best, we win face-offs, we get 200-foot clears, we get the puck down the ice, we make the entries difficult,” Sullivan said. “One of the challenges we’ve had to this point with respect to the Rangers is we haven’t won a lot of face-offs, we haven’t got a lot of clears. So, they’ve had a significant amount of zone time and they’re a talented group. “
2. Look out for 87
Sidney Crosby has been a driving force on his line with forwards Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. They have scored five of Pittsburgh’s six goals and accounted for 11 points, 41 shots on goal and 62 shot attempts.
New York’s ability to limit that line, especially when the Penguins aren’t getting production from their other lines, could be the difference in Game 3.
“You’re talking about one of the best lines in the league and right now they’re playing outstanding,” Gallant said. “That line has been really tough to handle and manage. We’re doing the best we can. There’s no perfect matchup for those guys.”
3. Secondary scoring
Evgeni Malkin‘s triple-overtime goal in Game 1 is the only one of the Penguins six goals in the series that has been scored from a player not on their top line.
Pittsburgh has been struggling to get secondary scoring beyond Crosby, Guentzel, Rust and Malkin for nearly four months.
Those four players have scored 88 goals since Jan. 11, including five in the two playoff games; the rest of the team has combined for 75 goals, none in the first round.
“When you get balanced scoring it certainly helps your chances to win games,” Sullivan said. “We’ll continue to work at that to help our guys create the opportunities to score goals, but certainly there’s been a number of scoring chances throughout our team here in the first two games.”
Rangers projected lineup
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin – Ryan Strome – Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafreniere – Filip Chytil – Kaapo Kakko
Dryden Hunt – Kevin Rooney – Ryan Reaves
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Justin Braun – Adam Fox
Patrik Nemeth – Braden Schneider
Scratched: Libor Hajek, Greg McKegg, Julien Gauthier, Jonny Brodzinski
Injured: Tyler Motte (upper body), Barclay Goodrow (lower body), Ryan Lindgren (lower body)
Penguins projected lineup
Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen – Evgeni Malkin – Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn – Jeff Carter – Evan Rodrigues
Brian Boyle – Teddy Blueger – Drew O’Connor
Mike Matheson – Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson – John Marino
Mark Friedman – Chad Ruhwedel
Scratched: Nathan Beaulieu
Injured: Tristan Jarry (lower body), Rickard Rakell (undisclosed), Casey DeSmith (core muscle surgery), Jason Zucker (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (lower body)
Lindgren, a defenseman, will be a game-time decision after not playing in Game 2 on Thursday. Row Goodrow, a forward, is expected to be sidelined at least the rest of this series. … Jarry skated on his own for the first time before an optional morning skate. The goalie is day to day. … DeSmith, a goalie, will be out the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after having core muscle surgery on Friday. … Zucker will be a game-time decision for a second straight game. If he plays, the forward could join Malkin on Pittsburgh’s second line.