(Photo: penguins.nhl.com)

On April 18, 1999, Wayne Gretzky played the final game of his NHL career. He wore a New York Rangers home jersey. The Rangers lost in overtime, 2-1, to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On April 18, 2015, Wayne Gretzky’s retired #99 jersey hung in the rafters of Madison Square Garden as the New York Rangers suffered another one goal defeat — to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Small world, hockey.

Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 4:39 to lead the Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Rangers in Game Two of the first-round series. The Rangers and Penguins are now tied at one win apiece as the series heads to Pittsburgh for the next two games.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period with a goal by Derek Stepan at 17:05. The line of Chris Kreider-Stepan-J.T. Miller had begun to change. Carl Hagelin had just come on for Kreider, but Stepan, aware that Miller had gotten the puck and was carrying it up the ice, skated past the bench. Miller found him for a wide open shot on net, and Stepan scored.

But the Rangers struggled to retain that offensive momentum as the second period began. The game turned instead in the Penguins’ favor, and Crosby and Brandon Sutter put in a combined three goals in the second. The Rangers skated off the ice after forty minutes of play to boos.

The game saw a total of eleven penalties, and several others went uncalled as the two teams played a scrappy and tension-filled game. Derick Brassard scored the Rangers’ single power play goal early in the third period to shift the momentum back in their favor, but Chris Kunitz responded minutes later with a goal of his own to build the Penguins’ lead to 4-2. With 5.1 seconds remaining in the game, Rick Nash put in his first goal of the playoffs to make it 4-3, but his goal was too little, too late. The Rangers’ longstanding “Game Two curse” would remain relevant as ever in this series.

THREE STARS OF THE GAME:

3. Brandon Sutter

2. Chris Kunitz

1. Sidney Crosby


 

LOOKING AHEAD:

-The difference between the Rangers winning and losing tonight’s game was their power play. They were just 1 for 7 with the man advantage on Saturday night and are currently 2 for 12 in the series. The Penguins are 2 for 5 over two games. The constant shifting between special teams and playing at even strength disrupted the rhythm of the game at some points, and this could have been part of the reason why the Rangers struggled to build momentum. But these missed power play opportunities may come back to haunt the Rangers if their numbers don’t improve down the stretch.

Kevin Klein is still listed as day-to-day and is doing some light practicing, but there is no set date for his return:

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Dan Girardi appears to be fine after having left Thursday night’s game with a possible jaw injury. The team reported that he was seen by a dentist and was at practice the next day. He played 20:20 in Saturday’s game.


NEXT GAME:

The series is tied 1-1. Game 3 takes place Monday, April 20 at 7pm at Consol Energy Center, and will be aired on NBCSN.

Stephanie is currently a student at Roger Williams University and is working toward a BFA in Creative Writing and Film. She is hoping to pursue a master's degree in Sports Journalism after graduating. Stephanie is a former basketball player and now enjoys writing from the sidelines (though she wouldn't be opposed to watching from a press box). She quite literally turned into a full-fledged hockey fan overnight, and she is the lone Rangers/Blackhawks fan in a family of hardcore Bruins fans. During the offseason, she enjoys writing, film, traveling, and theatre. Twitter: @stephanielynn_

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