NEW YORK -- Expect another emotional night at Madison Square Garden as the New York Rangers hope to force a seventh game in their second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a Mother’s Day victory.
The Rangers, rallying around forward Martin St. Louis, whose mother passed away the night before Game 5 in Pittsburgh, will try to help their teammate through a difficult Mother’s Day and extend the best-of-seven series with a second straight win.
“It’s going to be a couple of tough days for him. For us, we’re here for him to support him,” Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist said Sunday morning. "I think going into tonight’s game, though, you want to be focused on what you have to do, and Marty’s a big part of this team now.
“I have a lot of respect for how he handled everything in the last couple of days. He came to Pittsburgh, joined the team. It says a lot about him too.”
The key for the Rangers, who are expected to ice the same lineup as in Game 5 when they came away with a 5-1 victory to stop a three-game losing streak, will be finding that same emotional level. They were badly outplayed in their last home game when they managed only 15 shots on net in a 4-2 loss in Game 4.
“Pressure’s on them [the Penguins] right now,” Derick Brassard said Sunday. "They want to close the series out. For us, it’s a lot easier. Our backs are against the wall, we have nothing to lose, we’re just playing. Last game, we had fun and we scored a lot of goals, more goals than we’ve scored in the playoffs so far, so we just need to do the same."
Here’s a look at how the Rangers lineup will likely look Sunday night:
As for the Penguins, neither Brooks Orpik nor Olli Maatta skated Sunday morning. If both are unable to play, it will further test Pittsburgh's defensive depth. Robert Bortuzzo has been playing in Orpik’s absence due to a lower body injury that has kept him out of six of the last seven postseason games.
Coach Dan Bylsma would not discuss lineup changes but said if Deryk Engelland does draw into the lineup for Game 6 in place of Maatta, he will be expected to bring physicality to the table. The coach said he doesn’t worry as much about a player coming into the playoffs after a long layoff -- Engelland last played April 12 -- because of the atmosphere of a postseason game.
“He’s a hard guy to play against,” Bylsma said. "We’ve seen him do it last year in the playoffs against Boston, be that big-bodied guy."
Engelland told reporters he wasn’t sure if he was going to play.
As for what is expected to be an emotional building Sunday night, Bylsma said he received texts from a number of Penguins mothers who noted that the perfect Mother's Day gift would be a victory to close out this series.
“I want to give my mother a gift today,” Bylsma said. "I know she wrote and texted about it. Get her the fourth win here tonight."
Here’s how the Penguins lines and pairings look:
Matt Niskanen, Deryk Engelland/Olli Maatta
Rob Scuderi, Robert Bortuzzo