Rangers 61 second brain freeze costly in loss to Penguins

It started really well for the Rangers and maybe that was part of the problem. Snakebitten and struggling star Mika Zibanejad scored a highlight reel goal that was shades of Mika Magic from last season.

The Blueshirts were humming and then went flat on their first power play. Things changed quickly when the Penguins were given one that the Rangers killed off but were let down by Alexandar Georgiev just two seconds after it expired.

Rangers vs Penguins: 61 seconds was all it took

There’s a fine line to winning and losing in the NHL. That’s probably even more obvious in this COVID shortened season where the entire schedule is divisional games. The Rangers did an even better job highlighting that last night.

It started for the Penguins with a goal by John Marino right after a PP expired. Georgiev was off his angle but what happened after was inexcusable. Just 39 seconds later Kasperi Kapanen scored on a breakaway followed by a Sidney Crosby goal just 22 seconds after that.

In 61 seconds of the first period, the Pens in essence beat the Rangers (10-10-3). What’s worrisome is that they also did it against NJ on Saturday when they let in two quick goals in 17 seconds.

“A big problem for us tonight was our defensemen on these flips, we were just way too puck-conscious in the neutral zone, not really alert,” David Quinn said after his Rangers mental lapse. “Gave up three or four breakaways tonight because we’re playing the puck and not keeping our body between the net and the offensive player. Just basic things. Our mentality has to change in that scenario.”

Mika Zibanejad scores a confidence booster

mika zibanejad
Mar 7, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) scores a goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith (1) during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There really wasn’t too much to be happy about last night against Pittsburgh. Overall, it was a massive letdown for a team that needs points to make a playoff push.

On the plus, Jacob Trouba returned and looked good picking up a first period assist. Keith Kinkaid was actually strong in relief, which was nice to see. However, the biggest plus was Mika Zibanejad’s goal.

It was just his third on the season, so let’s not pop open champagne either. Although the sight of Zibanejad streaking down the ice – using Lafrenière as a decoy and going top cheese was a real positive sign.

“That’s the start you would like to get an early goal like that,” Zibanejad said after getting his first even strength goal of the year. While reporters tried to ask about his own game he kept focus on the fact that the team lost and his goal really didn’t matter.

Post Game Notes

  • The Blueshirts were 3-for-3 (5:56) on the penalty kill in tonight’s game and held Pittsburgh to only six shots on goal over the Penguins’ three power play opportunities. The Rangers have not allowed a power play goal against in 14 of their last 16 games (50-for-53; 94.3%).
  • The Rangers were credited with a single-game season-high 43 hits in tonight’s game. The Blueshirts have recorded 20 or more hits in 19 of 23 games this season, including 30 or more hits in seven different contests.
  • Pavel Buchnevich recorded an assist, which was his 100th career NHL assist, and led the Rangers with 3:29 of shorthanded ice time. He extended his assist/point streak to four games (two goals, four assists).

The Rangers are off today. Their next game is set for Tuesday, Mar. 9 at Pittsburgh (6:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network)

*Notes courtesy NYR

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