Penguins Fall 5-1 In Game 5 As Rangers Fend Off Elimination
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Derick Brassard scored twice, including New York’s first power-play goal in 10 games, and the Rangers avoided elimination with a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Friday night.
Brassard ended New York’s 0-for-36 slide with the man advantage by beating Marc-Andre Fleury late in the first period. Ryan McDonagh added another power-play goal in the second to help the Rangers force Game 6 in New York on Sunday.
Chris Kreider and Kevin Klein also scored, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots.
Evgeni Malkin had his third goal of the series for Pittsburgh. Fleury made 30 saves but lacked the crispness that allowed the Penguins to sweep Games 3 and 4 in New York.
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma stressed the importance of not letting the Rangers back in the series, but the fire he was looking for came from the other bench.
Part of the jolt came from the presence of forward Martin St. Louis. The veteran arrived in Pittsburgh just hours before faceoff after spending the night in Montreal following the unexpected death of his mother, France.
St. Louis told his teammates his mother would have wanted him on the ice. He played 16 minutes and watched the line of Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot rediscover the success they enjoyed against Pittsburgh in the regular season and the series opener.
The linemates, who powered the Rangers to victory in Game 1, combined for seven points (two goals, five assists) to give New York a chance to buck team history. The Rangers have never rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1. Instead of panicking, they went out and executed against the decidedly sloppy Penguins, who didn’t exactly look like the juggernaut who rolled to victory in the last two games at Madison Square Garden.
Playoff Impact On The City:
The Penguins held the Rangers to a 15 shots in Game 4, a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a playoff game. New York had 17 in the first period Friday night.
Having its beleaguered power play finally look competent helped. The Rangers hadn’t scored with the man advantage since Game 2 of the first round and often looked disinterested or disorganized whenever a Penguins player skated to the penalty box.
Kreider ended the miserable run 9:36 into the first period after Pittsburgh defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was called for delay of game for lazily flipping a puck over the boards in the Penguins’ zone despite having no pressure on him.
Playing in his second game after missing more than a month with a hand injury, Kreider threaded a rebound from the bottom of the left circle in a small hole between Fleury’s right pad and his blocker to give the Rangers their first lead in more than 180 minutes of play.
Brassard made it 2-0 just over 5 minutes later, diving across the Pittsburgh crease to bang home Zuccarello’s rebound.
The Penguins seemed to regain their swagger in the second period and Malkin cut the lead in half at the end of a thrilling burst in which he beat two Rangers to the net and did a 360- degree spin before slipping his own rebound by Lundqvist.
More Player Reaction:
The momentum didn’t last. Brassard roofed a shot through a scrum in front of Fleury to make it 3-1 and McDonagh scored his first goal of the postseason with a shot through traffic from the point after Pittsburgh was whistled for too many man on the ice, the kind of untidy mistake the Penguins had avoided while winning three straight to take command of the series.
Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen saw his eight-game point streak come to an end. Also, the Pens scratched defenseman Brooks Orpik, who appeared to suffer a lower-body injury in Game 4.
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