Pens squander chance to set tone

This isn't to take anything away from the Rangers, who were opportunistic and did respond after a difficult second period with a stronger third and took advantage of some disjointed play by the Penguins in their own zone to earn the victory with Derick Brassard's hard shot that went in off the crossbar. It was Brassard's first goal of the postseason.

"You'd like to steamroll over every team and have them not respond back," Bylsma noted.

But that's not going to happen, and it sure didn't happen in Game 1.

The Penguins must have trudged home after Friday's loss wondering how things might have played out had they not meandered through the first period and ended up chasing the game all night.

The Penguins didn't have a quality scoring chance until the first period was past the midpoint.

In spite of talking about needing to create havoc in front of New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, the Penguins shambled about the first period making drop passes to no one and fumbling around with the puck in their own zone.

As the seconds ticked away in the first, the announced sellout crowd booed lustily the team's play and, as though to reinforce that they weren't ready to play this game, Chris Kunitz took a holding penalty with 5.1 seconds left in the frame.

By then it was 2-0 Rangers, as Benoit Pouliot continued his fine play this spring, snapping a shot from deep in the slot past Marc-Andre Fleury, and then Brad Richards, left alone in front by defenseman Matt Niskanen, had time to go backhand to forehand to beat Fleury with less than three minutes to go in the period.

Now, the fact the Penguins did up the ante in the second period and at times in the third is not nothing. Had the Penguins completed the comeback, the storyline shifts tangentially. But they didn't, so the lost first period juxtaposed against the dominance of the second merely reinforces that the Penguins squandered a grand chance to set the tone in this series.

"We found a way to battle back in the game and give ourselves a chance to win. I thought we did a good job in the second and the third of getting to the net and putting pucks there and being physical and doing things in the offensive zone that we should have started with, but that's hockey and that happens," Neal said.

Crosby endured a rough evening. He was on the ice for all three Rangers goals and has now gone 12 postseason games without a goal.

He acknowledged that, "for whatever reason," the Penguins didn't come out hard enough.

"I don't think we played a full 60," Crosby said.

In a playoff year in which it has been difficult to get a read on the Penguins because they have failed to find a 60-minute game so frequently, Sunday suddenly looms large.

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