The Pittsburgh Penguins, led by two powerplay goals from Russian Evgeni Malkin, beat the New York Rangers 5-3 on Tuesday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their playoff series.
The Rangers, who lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference semi-finals in Pittsburgh, failed to score on six powerplays, twice with a 5-on-3 man advantage. They will be eliminated if they lose Game Four on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 36 saves, has now won 15 of his last 17 starts.
“The penalty kill and Marc were incredible tonight,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who had two assists, told CBC Sports.
“They’re bending, but they’re not breaking,” Rangers head coach Tom Renney said of the Penguins. “We appreciate that, but we’re going to keep coming at them.”
In the Western Conference semi-final, the Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime on Tuesday to lead their best-of-seven series 3-0.
In New York, Pittsburgh forward Marian Hossa took the wind out of the Rangers’ sails early, scoring from a tight angle after just one minute when goaltender Henrik Lundqvist failed to hold a shot by Pascal Dupuis.
But New York tied the scores in the 15th minute when Martin Straka poked the puck past Fleury during a scramble in which the goal was knocked off its moorings. The goal was only given after a lengthy video review.
Georges Laraque, better known for his fighting than his goal-scoring, put the Penguins ahead with a forehand shot from the slot. He was only on the ice because winger Ryan Malone was serving a roughing penalty along with two other Penguins and three Rangers following a melee after the New York goal.
When New York’s Ryan Callahan was given a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Hal Gill less than a minute later, Malkin scored the first of his pair with a slapshot.
The Rangers rallied to 3-3 in the second period, with goals by Ryan Callahan and captain Jaromir Jagr, who won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh early in his career.
But Malkin’s second goal, another booming slapshot, put the visitors ahead while New York’s Ryan Hollweg was serving a penalty for boarding.
Malone tipped in a Kris Letang shot early in the third period and for the rest of the game Fleury shut the door on the Rangers, who had 39 shots to the Penguins’ 17.
The Penguins have won all seven playoff games this season after sweeping the Ottawa Senators 4-0 in the first round. The last team to win its first seven playoff games was New York, which went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1994.
The Rangers, who beat the New Jersey Devils in the opening round, have never beaten Pittsburgh in three previous playoff meetings.
STARS 2, SHARKS 1, OT
At Dallas, Mattias Norstrom scored from the top of the left circle 4:37 into overtime to give Dallas the victory and a 3-0 lead against San Jose in their series.
Norstrom scored his second goal in 47 playoff games when he took a pass from Mike Ribeiro and slapped it through the traffic and past goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
The last time the Stars had a 3-0 series lead was in the first round of the 1999 playoffs, when they swept Edmonton and went on to win the Stanley Cup. This is their 16th postseason series since then.
Dallas can wrap up the series on Wednesday at home.
Nabokov stopped 27 shots, including Niklas Hagman’s penalty shot with 9:10 left in regulation.