Friday the 13th, on the anniversary of the Rangers clinching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015, the Rangers headed back to Pittsburgh to attempt to stay alike another day and bring this serious back home to the Garden. The crowd not letting up at all with their chants of “IG – OR” that did seem to rattle the goalie in their last home games.
With Penguins captain Sidney Crosby out due to injury and Tyler Motte back in the lineup for the first time these playoffs, many looked at this as a glimmer of hope that the Rangers could muster enough to force a game 7. And they did just that.
While not as bad of a start as the 5-on-3, the Rangers still seemed to move slowly and take the first penalty of the game. Losing face offs, Lindgren looking pained, and the defense not controlling the rebounds … stop me when you’ve heard this before. It was easy to fall into the same issues the Blueshirts have had all series and after a big chance by Strome in the crease, but nothing to show for it, it was the Penguins who struck first as they have so many times before.
PIT: Jeff Carter (4) – Kasperi Kapanen (3) & Marcus Pettersson (2) – 14:12
After a lot of chances in front of the net and even Shesterkin getting shoved in the crease, Carter wraps around for a rebound goal to make it 1-0.
PIT: Bryan Rust (2) – Jake Guentzel (2) – 15:48
Less than two minutes after Carter’s goal, Rust is able to tack on another one to make it 2-0. Guentzel did a lot of work on the assistants, who has done most of the scoring for the Penguins so far during this series.
This is how the period would end, leaving everyone (myself included) holding their breath, wondering if this game would go similarly to the last one or if that period was just the beginning of the train going off the rails.
We would soon find out though that when the Rangers said ‘no quit’ they meant it. They came out for the second period looking like a different team than we had seen, ever before, in this series. With fight.
NYR: PP Mika Zibanejad (1) – Ryan Strome (4) & Adam Fox (3) – 5:05
Mika came out swinging on the power play, winning the face off and immediately turning it into a goal to put the Rangers on the board.
NYR: Mika Zibanejad (2) – Adam Fox (3) & Ryan Lindgren (1) – 6:21
Less than two minutes later, he did it again to tie the game and make the Penguins waver just a bit. He had quite a few more chances mid-second period, leading everyone to believe a hat trick was imminent for him.
After a high sticking penalty on the Pens, Frank Vatrano left the ice as he was hit right in the face with said high stick. The call ended up being for four minutes giving the Rangers a huge power play opportunity that did pay off for them.
NYR: PP Chris Kreider (3) – Mika Zibanejad (5) & Igor Shesterkin (1) – 13:48
Yes, you read that right. Shesterkin started this play on the goal line with a heads-up pass, knowing Pittsburgh was changing lines. He gets it to Mika who gets it to Kreider who gets a power play goal to take the lead and completely turn this game on his head.
PIT: Evgeni Malkin (2) – 16:36
Malkin didn’t let the Rangers have the lead for too long before he took it into his own hands. Unassisted, he took the puck to the net and tied the game.
This is how the third period ended and if it’s sounding familiar, it does. This is exactly how the last game at MSG went and it makes you wonder if the Rangers like heading into the third period tied.
Not much happened in the first half of this period but a lot of chances for the Penguins that didn’t turn into anything. With the “IG – OR” chants going, and him making the big saves, the time ticked down to under 10 minutes left in regulation before New York got any meaningful shots on goal.
NYR: Mika Zibanejad (3) – Chris Kreider (3) & Adam Fox (5) – 18:32
As the clock dwindled down, Tyler Motte got possession of the puck, passed it up to Kreider who took a chance on a shot from 50 feet out and after bouncing passed Domingue, and took the lead with less than two minutes to go.
They ultimately gave this goal to Mika Zibanejad who deflected it in by a hair, meaning he did score a hat trick in this game though it wasn’t celebrated as such at the moment.
NYR: Andrew Copp (4) – Kevin Rooney (2) & Adam Fox (6) – 19:33
The Penguins pulled the goalie, had a few chances, but Andrew Copp ultimately knocked in the empty net goal and the Rangers took a late 5-3 lead until the time ran out on the third period in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers will bring it back home for a seventh game in this series, coming back from being down three games to one.
Sunday night. Madison Square Garden.