(The Sports Xchange) - Center Evgeni Malkin had two goals and two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins demolished the New York Rangers 5-0 in Game 4 of their first-round series at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
The Penguins hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can clinch a spot in the second round by winning Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Two years ago, the Penguins were in the same situation and lost the final three games of their second-round series against the Rangers.
Wingers Patric Honrqvist, Eric Fehr and Connor Sheary also scored for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby had two assists.
Goaltender Matt Murray made 31 saves for his first career postseason shutout in his second career postseason start, both wins.
Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta stopped 13 of 14 shots after relieving Henrik Lundqvist midway through the second period.
The Penguins blitzed the Rangers for three goals during the first period.
It took just 69 seconds for Fehr to make it 1-0. Lundqvist was unable to control a shot by defenseman Ben Lovejoy and that allowed Fehr to slip the rebound home for his first goal of the postseason.
Hornqvist increased the lead to 2-0 with his fourth goal about seven minutes later on a power play. Malkin fired a shot from the blue line that deflected off Crosby and Hornqvist, leaving Lundqvist little chance of making a save.
Sheary’s first career postseason goal with 3:48 remaining made it 3-0. Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein was stripped at the blue line by Sheary, who took off on a breakaway and beat Lundqvist to the short side.
Malkin’s power-play goal four minutes into the second period gave the Penguins a 4-0 lead. Crosby made a pass from behind that slithered to the top of the circles for Malkin, who hammered a one-timer that beat Lundqvist far side.
Lundqvist’s night would end a few minutes later as he was replaced by Raanta after allowing four goals on 18 shots.
Malkin added another power-play goal at 3:28 of the third period when he redirected a pass from defenseman Brian Dumoulin to extend the lead to 5-0.