Penguins don’t miss a beat despite net questions, top Rangers in Game 1
Goaltending questions persist for the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least in broader terms, but they reminded many of the best solution for such problems: just play really well and see what happens.
In the case of Game 1 against the New York Rangers, a lot happened, including a 5-2 win for the Penguins.
Most obviously, the Rangers now reach into their goaltending depth chart, as Henrik Lundqvist was injured thanks to an errant Marc Staal stick. That moment whittled things down to Antti Raanta vs. Jeff Zatkoff for at least Game 1.
Who knows how many games may feature such a “Battle of the Backups,” but consider Game 1 a huge victory for Zatkoff.
The fans here at CONSOL Energy Center are chanting "ZATKOFF! ZATKOFF!" at the top of their lungs. Chills -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 14, 2016
Jeff Zatkoff knew last night he would start Game 1. "Slept last night but not so much for pre-game nap."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 14, 2016
The Rangers generated plenty of chances, yet only Derek Stepan could solve Zatkoff with two goals. The sequence of special teams opportunities that helped Stepan score his first goal wasn’t even successful in the grand scheme of things, either, as the Penguins scored a shorthanded goal via a nice finish by amusingly named Tom Kuhnhackl.
Beyond a brilliant showing by Zatkoff, the Penguins also rode a hat trick from Patric Hornqvist and this beauty by Sidney Crosby:
The Penguins grabbed the second seed in the Metropolitan Division thanks to a blistering finish to their 2015-16 season. Questions in net didn’t keep them from taking a 1-0 series lead, and so it appears as though the hot streak continues.
Of course, even with this promising win, Pittsburgh has a long way to go to dispatch a Rangers team that eliminated them from the playoffs in 2015 and 2014.