It was closing time for a season of surprise success for the Rangers. The Rangers were down by one goal, and there was growing anxiety at Madison Square Garden. It seemed like the end of a great run.
However, all season, including the two previous games of the playoffs (and even in the final two), the Rangers managed to find a way back to win. And they did it in the most dramatic manner on Sunday.
Mika Zibanejad took a wrist shot, tying the score after trailing by one goal with just six minutes left in regulation. At 4:45 minutes and 45 seconds, Artemi Panarin scored a wrist shot on power play to win Game 7 in their first round playoff series. This victory sent more than 18,000 Gardeners into delirium.
This season has seen the Rangers surpass expectations and entice fans with their potential future. However, the most important unknown was playoff experience.
They definitely have it now, and it will prove to be very useful when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at the second round of playoffs.
After facing a deficit of three games to one, the Rangers won their first series victory since 2017. The Penguins lost Game 7, their seventh on the road, after having won six consecutive franchise championships.
“We’ve been a resilient group all year long and that didn’t change in the series,” Chris Kreider, the Rangers winger, said in a television interview after the game.
There was much anticipation leading up to the game about whether Sidney Crosby would be playing. It had been four days since Jacob Trouba knocked him out of Game 5 with a crunching check, with Trouba’s left elbow making contact with Crosby’s face. Trouba was not penalized on the play, and although it initially looked intentional, replays of certain angles indicated he might have had his elbow up high as he played the puck close to Crosby’s feet.
Crosby, a concussion sufferer who missed 115 games in his 17-season professional career, suffered a severe headache. He left the game shortly afterward and did not return to the lineup for Game 6, which was won by the Rangers, 5-3. There were reports before Sunday’s Game 7 that Crosby was not diagnosed with a concussion and may have been kept out of the lineup for precautionary reasons.
About a half-hour before Sunday’s game, a murmur went through the arena when Crosby skated onto the ice for warm-ups. Rangers fans regard Crosby as a villain, partly because of his reputation for falling on the ice frequently to draw penalties. They chant his name with ridicule and show little sympathy.
There is no doubt about his leadership skills and talent. He was the winner of three Stanley Cups. Multiple scoring trophies and awards. In the four first games of the series, he was the most dangerous player for the Penguins before his injury.
Crosby sprinted onto the ice on Sunday with conviction. He provided teammates with penetrating passes, and forced Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (who was playing in the second period) to save a slapshot. He assisted on Jake Guentzel’s goal in the second period for his 201st playoff point, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for the fifth most in N.H.L. history.
Crosby was also the focus of a skirmish near the Rangers’ goal late in the first period when he tried to pry the puck away from Shesterkin. Ryan Lindgren, Rangers’ defenseman, attacked Crosby. This caused some ruckus, which resulted in matching penalties.
Midway through the opening period, the Rangers scored. Zibanejad was joined by Kreider as they stormed down to the ice for an all-out two-on-1 breakaway. Zibanejad, running down the left wing, passed across to Kreider who, being a left-handed shooter and set up from right face-off, shot a one time slap shot above Tristan Jarry. This hit the crossbar and went in the goal. Kreider was elated.
It was Kreider’s fifth goal of the series and third in the last two games, and Zibanejad’s seventh assist. Jarry found it almost impossible to stop and was one of the first games he’d seen in action for over a month.
Mike Sullivan, the Penguins’ coach, made a calculated gamble when he assigned Jarry to start the game. Jarry, who had not played since April 14, was injured and is thought to have suffered a broken bone in his foot. Louis Domingue, third-string goalie for Pittsburgh, was present in six of the games. He entered in the second overtime period in Game 1 and was solid. But Domingue’s last goal, which Sullivan witnessed slip past Domingue, was not a great one. Kreider’s game-winning shot from the point with 1 minute 28 seconds left in Game 6 struck off Domingue’s paddingHe bounced forward and over his head into the goal.
Jarry is considered a superior goalie, although it was impossible to predict his sharp reflexes. Sullivan has not been afraid to take high-risk, high reward moves.
The Penguins scored a goal by Danton Henneen to even the score in the first period. However, it was not credited to them after replay review. In the second period, both teams traded goals. Guentzel scored for PittsburghAnd K’Andre Miller evened the scoreRangers
Later in the period Evan Rodrigues scored. remarkable backhand goalThe Penguins led 3-2 into the second intermission. There was a breakaway and tension built towards a thrilling conclusion.
Source: NY Times