Rangers force Game 6 after big win in Pittsburgh

New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) celebrates scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh...

New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) celebrates scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins along with left wing Benoit Pouliot (67) and right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) during the first period in game five of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center on May 9, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:06 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — Dan Bylsma’s fears were realized on Friday night.

Earlier in the day, the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins spoke of the importance of not giving the New York Rangers a chance to get some breath in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Consider the Rangers up and off the mat. If the Penguins win the best-of-seven series, it’s going to have to be done with some difficulty.

The Rangers sloughed off a terrible performance two nights previous in Manhattan and pushed the Penguins around at the Consol Energy Center, winning 5-1 in Game 5 to send the series back to New York for a sixth game on Sunday.

Pittsburgh remains in control with a 3-2 series lead, but the Rangers, perhaps buoyed by the presence of Martin St. Louis, had to take away a chunk of the Penguins’ confidence.

After promising some desperate hockey — not that they had any choice but to play that way — the Rangers backed up their words with a performance in which they set the tone in the first period and didn’t let up.

Derick Brassard, with two goals, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein scored for the Rangers, who never have won a series when trailing 3-1 in games.

New York busted out of its power-play slump, and scored on their first two man advantages after going 36 power plays without scoring.

Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who had been stellar for much of the series, was ordinary at best.

St. Louis played for the Rangers, a day after the death of his mother, France. He had travelled to Montreal on Thursday immediately after the Rangers’ plane landed in Pittsburgh.

“My message to him was there are more important things than hockey and you have to do what is right, you have to take care of your dad,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “They got up this morning and they talked and sorted it out and he is here.

“I think that says a lot about him but it also says a lot about his teammates, that he would want to be here and play.”

Approximately 2 1/2 hours before the game, in a moment caught by CBC cameras, Sidney Crosby consoled St. Louis, who was riding a stationary bike outside the Rangers dressing room as Crosby walked by.

“I have had the opportunity to play with Marty in the Olympics and get to know him,” Crosby said in the morning. “He is a great guy and competes hard and I’m sure it’s not easy. We are definitely thinking of him.”

The Penguins appeared to have climbed back into the game when Malkin, using pure power that only a few NHL players possess, muscled his way past defencemen Dan Girardi and Marc Staal to get a shot on net. Malkin didn’t quit, and beat Henrik Lundqvist with a low shot at 3:23 of the second period.

But the Rangers didn’t take long to restore a two-goal lead. Brassard got his second of the game at 7:58, scoring after Fleury stopped a couple of initial shots. And the Rangers went up 4-1 just 50 seconds later when McDonagh’s shot from the point found its way to the top of the net. That goal came as Malkin served a Penguins bench minor for too many men on the ice.

The Penguins might have grabbed some momentum late in the second period when they had a two-man advantage for one minute 23 seconds. But they got too cute and didn’t score as Staal, McDonagh and Brian Boyle did a fine job on the penalty kill.

When McDonagh pinched along the side board and knocked Malkin off the puck in the opening minute of the game, the Rangers made it clear they had no desire to return home and unpack their golf clubs.

They soon had 15 shots — as many as they had in all of Game 4 — and a 2-0 lead. Kreider scored on a tough angle at 9:36 with Robert Bortuzzo serving a delay-of-game penalty, and Brassard got New York’s second goal at 15:23 when he swatted a rebound past Fleury.

Lundqvist was excellent when he was tested and among his difficult saves was a stop on Crosby after the Penguins captain re-directed a Paul Martin pass.

Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik was out with an apparent right knee injury and was replaced by Bortuzzo.

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

 


Photos