Youthful Penguins complete sweep of Rangers

Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:07pm EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - These aren't the Pittsburgh Penguins that the New York Rangers eliminated in the Stanley Cup playoffs the last two years. Not even close.

They're not even the Penguins who began the regular season under a different coach, and that might be the biggest difference of all.

Bryan Rust scored two goals and set up another, fellow rookie Conor Sheary added a goal during Pittsburgh's four-goal second period and the Penguins overwhelmed the New York Rangers with their youth and speed, finishing off the first-round series with a 6-3 rout on Saturday.

"It was great to close it out," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said.

Goaltender Matt Murray -- yes, he's a rookie, too -- won his third straight game by making 38 saves as the Penguins won their 18th in 21 overall, needing just five games to eliminate the Metropolitan Division rival that put them out of the playoffs the last two seasons.

The difference from then to now is obvious, according to defenseman Kris Letang.

"Before, when Sid (Crosby) and Geno (Evgeni Malkin) didn't score, we had trouble winning games," Letang said. "(Now) we have four lines that can contribute -- and we've got speed."

The Penguins will move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the winner of the Philadelphia Flyers-Washington Capitals series. The NHL regular-season champion Capitals lead 3-2 going into Game 6 on Sunday in Philadelphia.

"I think we played a team that's smarter and better," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled for the second straight game with New York down 6-2 after two periods.   Continued...

Apr 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) makes a save against the New York Rangers as players crash the net during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports - RTX2BDCL