NEW YORK -- On to Game 7.
Trailing 3-1 in their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers have sparked a dramatic turnaround, rattling off two straight wins to force a winner-takes-all elimination game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Martin St. Louis fittingly scored a goal on Mother's Day, Derick Brassard had another monster game and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was excellent in helping the Rangers avoid elimination for the second straight game with New York's 3-1 win over Pittsburgh Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
More importantly for the Blueshirts, they seem to have shifted all the pressure to the Penguins, who have struggled to keep a stranglehold on the series and appear to be cracking under pressure. None more so than Sidney Crosby, whose frustration was evident in the Penguins' loss.
Emotional goal: St. Louis was understandably boisterous in celebrating his first-period goal Sunday night.
The 38-year-old veteran forward, who lost his mother to a heart attack on Thursday, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 3:34 into play, sending the MSG crowd into an absolute frenzy. St. Louis, who played in Game 5 just one day after his mother’s unexpected death, had both his father, Normand, and sister, Isabelle, in attendance to take in the special game.
Earlier Sunday, St. Louis said he thought having both of his family members there would “help the grieving process.”
St. Louis also made a terrific tape-to-tape feed to set up Chris Kreider for a glorious scoring chance later in the frame, but Kreider was denied by Fleury.
Big games for Brassard: Held without a goal for the Rangers’ first-round set against the Philadelphia Flyers, 26-year-old center Brassard is having some sort of series against the Penguins.
Scoring a critical second-period goal that staunched a Penguins surge, Brassard allowed the Rangers to reclaim a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 15:30. It was Brassard’s third goal in the past two games; he also scored the overtime game-winner in Game 1 in Pittsburgh.
Brassard’s goal Sunday was his most impressive yet, as he batted an airborne puck to himself, behind Fleury, to chip it in for his fourth of the playoffs. The goal came after an inspired penalty-killing effort from the Rangers.
Second-period skirmish: The Rangers were livid with Crosby after the superstar captain kicked defenseman Dan Girardi's skate from under him and took a post-whistle whack at Lundqvist all on one shift toward the end of the second period.
Frustrations really boiled over after the buzzer, when Crosby speared New York’s Dominic Moore in the groin. Moore then cross-checked Crosby in retaliation, prompting Chris Kunitz to tackle him to the ice. Crosby and Brian Boyle both jumped into the fracas and had to be forcibly separated by officials as they jawed back and forth while heading to their respective dressing rooms.
If Crosby receives a fine from the NHL, Lundqvist might be a little lighter in the wallet as well. A television replay revealed the goaltender dumped his water bottle on Crosby during the scrum, an offense that recently earned Boston’s Shawn Thornton with a $2,820.52 fine when he did the same to Montreal’s P.K. Subban on Saturday.