With their season on the line in game five, the Rangers got behind 2-0 but rallied to win 5-3.
With their season on the line in game six, the Rangers got behind 2-0 but rallied to win 5-3.
With their season on the line in game seven……well, that is yet to be decided.
The bottom line is that there will be a game seven on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden thanks to the resilient Rangers who showed up for games five and six against the Penguins after being dormant in games three and four.
Chris Krieder scored twice, including the go ahead goal with 1:28 left in the third period as the Rangers went on to a 5-3 win over the Penguins in game six last night at PPG Paints Arena.
With time winding down in the third period and the score tied at three, Mika Zibanjejad, who came alive with two goals and two assists for a four point night, entered the Penguins zone and found Kreider on left wing. The 52-goal scorer shot the puck towards the net, but Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue had it glance off his glove and it spun over his head where it rolled into the net before Jeff Carter could keep it out.
Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves including eight in the third period with the score tied as he had the last laugh on a night when he silenced the derisive chants from the Penguins’ faithful.
Sidney Crosby did not play due to an upper body injury but in the early going, the Penguins did not miss a beat. Goals by Carter and Bryan Rust on a one timer, gave the Penguins a familiar 2-0 lead in the first period. Like game five, the Rangers came alive in the second period with a couple of quick goals.
“Fortunately, we found a way to battle back,” head coach Gerard Gallant said after the game.
Pittsburgh’s Evan Rodrigues took a foolish roughing penalty at the 5:00 minute mark of the second period and it gave the Rangers some momentum as they took all of five seconds with the man advantage for Zibanejad to get his first goal of the series.
Zibanjejad, who had already hit the post on a breakaway, won the face off and took a pass from Ryan Strome and fired it past Domingue to cut the Penguins lead to 2-1. Adam Fox had the secondary assist, one of four on the night.
Zibanejad was making up for lost time as he scored his second goal of the game, on a one timer, just a minute and 16 seconds later to tie the game at two.
“We show no quit and that’s what I love about this team,” Zibanjejad said.
“It’s been on mantra all year. We got twenty something comeback wins this year,” Fox said on MSG Network after the game. “We’ve been saying, ‘No quit New York.’ We’ve been saying that all year, you know you gotta show it too.”
The Rangers couldn’t rest on their laurels because Pittsburgh had a 5 on 3 advantage for 1:07 after Zibanejad went off for a delay of game and Kevin Rooney was in the box with a tripping penalty. The Rangers had a big kill and rode that momentum to the lead.
Later in the period, Penguins defeneman Mike Matheson received a double minor for high sticking and the Rangers capitalized again with the man advantage.
Shesterkin’s prowess with the stick led to the go ahead goal on the power play. After the Penguins cleared the puck, Shesterkin played it deep in his own end and fired a long pass onto the stick of a streaking Zibanejad, who broke into the Penguins zone on a two on one with Kreider on his left. Zibanejad shot the puck and Kreider got the rebound and put it in the open net for a 3-2 lead.
Like game five, the Rangers lead was shortlived.
Less than three minutes after taking the lead, the Rangers literally gave it right back. Jacob Trouba, who was also hearing it from the crowd because of his hit on Crosby in game five, gave the puck away to Evgeni Malkin who came in on a breakaway and beat Shesterkin to tie the game at three after two periods.
The teams skated through a scoreless third period until Kreider broke the tie. Andrew Copp capped the scoring and put the game away with an empty net goal with 27 seconds remaining.
Kreider, the Rangers longest tenured player, has been in a number of game sevens and was part of the team that came back against the Penguins in 2014.
“We’ve been treating every game since we’ve been down like it’s a game seven. It’s been do or die for us so nothing changes,” Kreider said.
Fox will be experiencing a game seven for the first time but he’s ready. “The guys who have played in game sevens told us it’ll be one of the most fun games we’ll play in so I think we’re all super excited, having the crowd behind us there, that place will be loud as I’ve probably heard it,” he said.
Gallant realizes the Rangers got a reprieve on their season. “Three days ago, we’re down three-one and now we got a chance to go back home and win a game seven.”