Derick Brassard of the Rangers watches the puck go past Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the first goal of the Penguins/Rangers Eastern Conference first-round series. (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Pittsburgh Penguins' injury-depleted defense corps was projected to be a weakness in their first-round series against the New York Rangers – and Thursday night in Game 1, those fears seemed legitimate after the Pens allowed a goal just 27 seconds into the first period.
Not many hockey pundits, professional or otherwise, were giving the Pittsburgh Penguins much of a chance to win their first-round series with the New York Rangers. And after the Pens gave up the first goal of the series just 28 seconds into Game 1 Thursday night, there are probably more people who feel that way.
Without injured veteran defensemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff in the lineup, the Penguins' defense corps was projected to be a weakness, and it didn't take long after the opening faceoff before it had a catastrophic defensive breakdown. That came in two parts: the first, when Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury allowed a massive rebound on Rick Nash's slap shot from the blueline; and, more importantly, when Pens d-man Paul Martin allowed Derick Brassard to blow by him and snap a shot past Fleury to make it 1-0 for the home team before the game was a half-minute old:
The Blueshirts' first goal was followed by another one from captain Ryan McDonagh 15 minutes later to give the Rangers a two-goal lead. But although Pittsburgh cut the lead in half in the second period with a goal from Blake Comeau and got some very good saves out of Fleury in the middle frame, Penguins fans can't be feeling all that good about their team's chances to make it to the second round from what they've seen thus far.