Posted on May 2, 2008 12:01 AM | Permalink
The Pittsburgh Pengins now know what losing feels like in the 2007-08 playoffs. Judging by the way they immediately reacted - with Evgeni Malkin slew-footing Paul Mara twice and Sidney Crosby plowing into a final-seconds scrum - they didn't like it all that much.
The question, after the New York Rangers avoided playoff elimination tonight with a 3-0 Game 4 victory in Madison Square Garden, is how the young Penguins will respond to absorbing their first significant blow of this postseason when Game 5 is played back in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon (CBC, 2 p.m. ET) after two days off.
"That's what you expect in the playoffs - you don't win every game," said a philosophical Crosby, who has four assists but has yet to score a goal in the series. "You have to try to do your best and match their desperation level. You put yourself in their place, down 3-0. You can do your best to match it [but the] urgency has to be a little more there and we have to be hungrier than that.
"We have to remember that there's a price to play if you want to score goals in the playoffs."
The price the Rangers paid for getting the first subpar game of the postseason from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in Game 3 was a series of elimination games. Lundqvist played a major role in staving off the first one by stopping 29 shots and a second-period penalty shot by Malkin when the Rangers were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
That lead was provided by a Jaromir Jagr goal scored on a wrister off the rush just before he was crushed by a high hit from Brooks Orpik. The Rangers' captain played another monster game, scoring twice and setting up the other goal. All the while, he heard Garden fans chanting his name, some while toting signs imploring him to return next season. His contract expires June 30 unless he wins the Conn Smythe Trophy.
"It's great," he said, smiling. "But we have to make sure we play a little bit longer. Enjoy the moment. It's too bad we got in such a tough situation, but you just never know.
"Maybe it happened for a reason to be down, 3-0. So we shouldn't ask about it. We should just play."
The Rangers played without LW Sean Avery, who suffered a lacerated spleen in Game 3 Tuesday night. The internal bleeding from the injury finally stopped this afternoon. And if Avery continues to progress through the night, he is expected to be removed from the intensive care unit tomorrow, a team spokesperson said.