Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Watch: Matt Cullen Speeds Past Two Fumbling Rangers to Score Game Winner

The return of Ryan McDonagh on Tuesday night in New York led to a Dan Boyle-Keith Yandle defensive pairing for the Rangers during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Penguins, and all was going well until this double-gaffe allowed 39-year-old Matt Cullen to steam in on a breakaway against unsuspecting Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist looks like he's been caught off guard on the play as Cullen buries a wrister to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 4:16 of the third.

The lead would stand as Kris Letang added a late empty-netter to give the Pens a road win and a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts.

Yandle was in better position to drop back and defend before the turnover, and probably should have let Boyle take the one-on-one with Cullen. If Boyle had trouble, he'd at least be able to alter Cullen's path. Instead, both defenseman made Keystone Cop-like swipes at the puck and ended up colliding while Cullen raced off.

It's a split-second read-and-react play, and it burned the Rangers badly.

It was exactly the thing a pair of defenseman cannot afford to do in the third period of a crucial playoff game. Particularly in a game where the Rangers struggled to get through the neutral zone and only managed 17 shots on rookie goaltender Matt Murray.

"It's one of those things that happens over the course of the game," Yandle said after the game. "It's a 50-50 puck and we run into each other. It's a tough one to swallow right now and we just have to come back Thursday."