Stanley Cup Playoffs: Hanging Close No CONSOL-ation For Pittsburgh Penguins


Apr 22, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers right wing

Kevin Hayes

(13) reacts after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You have to admit, this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers has been classic postseason hockey.

All four games have been decided by one goal, competition has been intense, and the most recent game – Wednesday night’s 2-1 New York victory at Consol Energy Center – went to sudden-death overtime.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that playing an opponent close will split the games down the middle.

The Rangers appeared to have scored a debilitating victory in Game 4, turning what could have been a toss-up series into a near runaway. A Pens win would have made this matchup into a best of three, but now it’s highly unlikely that hockey season in Pittsburgh runs past the weekend.

Forgetting the larger implications for a moment – another year wasted in the Sidney CrosbyEvgeni Malkin era – Wednesday’s sudden defeat was confounding for a couple other reasons.

No. 1: The Penguins finally won the first period.

After getting drastically out-scored and out-played in the opening 20 minutes of each of the first three games, Pittsburgh out-shot and out-attempted the Rangers to start Game 4, carrying a 1-0 lead into the intermission on Patric Hornqvist‘s deflection.

However, given the Pens’ vast edge in play in the first, they needed to create more than a one-goal advantage. They could not, despite getting a pair of early power plays in a series that has yielded few for Pittsburgh. When the Rangers predictably pushed back in the second period, there was only one goal to make up, and they did just that.

No. 2: The Consol “curse” continues.

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  • I don’t believe in hexes, voodoo and the like, but it’s difficult to otherwise explain the Pens’ lack of playoff success in their five-year-old home. Pittsburgh is now 10-13 in the postseason at Consol Energy Center, lowlighted by an 0-4 mark in overtime.

    One would expect that a bounce would eventually go the Penguins’ way in one of these tight games at Consol, but it hasn’t happened yet. Kevin Hayes‘ OT winner Wednesday was typically excruciating, as the puck pinballed through the crease a couple times before the Rangers rookie slammed it into the yawning cage.

    That goal was a further indignity to Marc-Andre Fleury, who has posted a .921 save percentage in this series, but has seen his teammates produce more than one goal just once in these four games.


    For how many times the Pens have been upset over the past five years, it appears they will fall short in their own attempt to surprise the hockey world.

    Although expectations should be tempered due to empty lockers for injured players Olli Maatta, Christian Ehrhoff, Pascal Dupuis and Derrick Pouliot, that does little to blunt the pain of another looming early playoff departure.

    The Penguins may extend this series yet, but after failing to take advantage of another winnable game, they will need to be nearly flawless to put more than a dot of doubt in the Rangers’ minds.

    Next: Bucs down Cubs on snowy night at PNC