It was simply a case of the New York Rangers wanting it more. Buoyed by the emotional appearance and play of Martin St. Louis a day after the death of his mother, the Rangers put together a complete game and outhustled the Pittsburgh Penguins to remain alive in their series, now trailing 3 games to 2.
The Rangers dominated the first, and after Robert Bortuzzo‘s puck over glass penalty put the Rangers on the power play, they finally cashed in. Chris Kreider dove to knock a loose puck back to the point. Ryan McDonagh‘s shot was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury but the rebound went to Kreider who quickly shot it past Fleury from a tough angle. Derick Brassard doubled the lead late in the period, coming out from behind the net unchecked and putting a rebound past a sprawling Fleury.
Evgeni Malkin got the Penguins back into the game on a nice individual rush. Malkin took a pass at center ice, and had to completely change direction and went in essentially 1 on 4, split the defense and although his first shot was stopped, he corralled the rebound and put it in on a spin-around shot.
That was the lone bright spot on a tough night for Pittsburgh and Fleury. Brassard cashed in another rebound after Mats Zuccarello made a nice drive into the Rangers end. He dropped the puck to Anton Stralman, whose shot was stopped, but Brassard got a couple of cracks at the rebound and put it in through a maze of players.
The Penguins then took a too many men on the ice penalty, and Ryan McDonagh’s point shot got through Fleury’s glove and gave the New York Rangers a 4-1 lead. The Penguins had a great opportunity late in the period with a lengthy 5-on-3, but they couldn’t even get a quality scoring chance.
For Fleury, his inconsistency is troubling, as is his lack of rebound control. The Rangers scored on him 4 times, and 3 of them were from poor placement of rebounds and his lack of positioning to be able to make the save after the first shot. And the 4th goal, McDonagh’s point shot, was very stoppable.
Zuccarello was the best player on the ice for the Rangers, picking up 3 assists and being a factor almost any time he was on the ice.
The New York Rangers return home for game 6 on Sunday, and will try to send it back to Pittsburgh for game 7.