Before the beginning of the game tonight, the prediction was that if the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the first goal, the Rangers stood no chance. Yet the New York Rangers had proved everyone wrong, dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins and keeping the series alive. Although the New York Rangers coach, Alain Vigneault, chewed gum nervously on the bench, it was clear that tonight the Rangers were vying for a win that would keep their dream of winning the Stanley Cup alive.
With everything at stake in Game Five of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers series, the Rangers took an early lead with a goal from Chris Kreider, when the puck found its way past Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury. While New York goaltender Henrik Lundquist made outstanding saves, pouncing on the puck and denying Penguins of scoring chances, the rest of the team did not miss a single scoring opportunity against their opponents. When Derick Brassard scored the second goal of the game for the Rangers, the team proved that tonight would be different from the other games in this series.
The second period took a turn with an early goal from Pittsburgh’s Evgenei Malkin, who stole the puck from the Rangers and scored a sharp goal. Nonetheless, the Rangers were not giving up, and with a few dangerous turnovers and plays, they broke away and Derick Brassard scored his second goal of the night, returning the two goal lead for the away team.
When Pittsburgh received a penalty for too many men, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma played the odds and put his best player in the penalty box. The New York Rangers entered the game as one of the worst teams in the NHL playoffs when it came to scoring on power plays. Yet, with Malkin in the penalty box, the Rangers saw their chance and quickly scored their third goal and second power play goal of the night. With a three goal lead and 30 minutes left in the game, New York Rangers were motivated and strong-willed. Bylsma’s reasoning made sense, as Malkins’ strongest asset is scoring on breakaways, and if the penalty kill had gone as Dan Bylsma thought, the Penguins would have ended up with a second goal. However, the decision to get rid of the team’s best player backfired, and seemed to destroy all chances of a Pittsburgh victory.
Although the Penguins were called for “too many men”, so dominate was New York’s effort in the first 40 minutes of the game, it seemed like there were no Penguins players on the ice. When the Penguins received a 5-on-3 power play, it was the team’s chance to get back in the game. Yet the Rangers were filled with determination and, with only three players, the New York Rangers were able to shut down the Penguins’ power play.
During the second intermission, CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada took an interview from Ryan McDonaugh who had a goal and an assist in the game so far. “We’re skating a little bit more and trying to play on our toes.” said McDonaugh. When asked about the forward Martin St. Louis, McDonaugh said: “[He’s] an incredible guy, obviously first and foremost, seeing him play the way he is, he is making a huge impact. It only says how great of a character guy he is, he’s proving it all along, he doesn’t need to prove it anymore but it’s just another great example.” Martin St.Louis’ mother has passed away unexpectedly yesterday. Upon hearing the news, St.Louis rushed to his Montreal home and, after asking his father for guidance, St. Louis was back on ice before the start of the game today. The win tonight clearly meant a lot to him.
The third period was scoreless, until the game came to an unexpected halt with seven minutes left in the game when Moore and Jokinen got into an unexpected brawl. With a penalty to New York Rangers so late in the game, Pittsburgh exchanged their goalie for an extra forward and with four forwards and two defense men, Pittsburgh Penguins attempted to tighten the score difference. The New York Rangers held on to kill the penalty and later took the advantage of the empty net, finishing the game off with the score of 5-1.
The New York Rangers not only outscored their opponents on this day, but dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins in every single aspect on the ice, thus proving that they were still very much alive in their quest for the Cup. Despite the hardships and adversities they faced before the start of tonight’s’ game, they came together and played as one.
Commentary by Ivelina Kunina