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Sunday, May 11, 2014
W2W4: Rangers vs. Penguins, Game 6

By Katie Strang

At a glance: After an emotional Game 5 win in which veteran forward Martin St. Louis played just one day following the unexpected death of his mother, the New York Rangers again try to avoid elimination in their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven set, the Blueshirts hope to get a lift from the home crowd at Madison Square Garden and force a Game 7 on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Penguins look to close out the series and punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.

Special meaning: Game 6 falls on Mother’s Day, giving an already pivotal match even more meaning, especially for St. Louis. The 38-year-old spent Friday with his family in Montreal and brought back his father, Normand, and sister, Isabelle, with him to New York to attend Sunday night’s game. St. Louis said this will be a “special” day for him and his family. “To have my dad and my sister here, I think it helps with the grieving process,” St. Louis said after the team’s morning skate.

Better look: After an abysmal stretch in which the unit was blanked on 36 straight opportunities, the Rangers’ power play rattled off a pair of goals in Friday’s game. Both Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh scored with a man advantage, alleviating some pressure on the ailing unit. Said Derick Brassard, who tallied twice in the Rangers’ Game 5 victory: “The fact that we scored two goals [on the power play], it’s obviously huge and hopefully it brings us some confidence for tonight.” Having Chris Kreider back in the lineup doesn’t hurt, either. The 23-year-old winger’s net-front presence and ability to retrieve pucks have been assets with the man advantage.

Questions on Penguins' D: The Penguins are likely to be without veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik, who missed the first three games of the series and subsequently sustained a different injury in his return to the lineup in Game 4. Complicating matter for the Penguins is that rookie blue-liner Olli Maatta did not participate in the Penguins morning skate, either. The Penguins may be forced to play without both in Game 6.

Is home ice really an advantage?: It sure hasn’t seemed so this series, when the Rangers dropped both Games 3 and 4 at home and the Penguins have now lost two of three in Pittsburgh. Historically, the Penguins have fared well at MSG. Under current coach Dan Bylsma, the team has gone 12-4 at the Garden, including both regular-season and playoff games. Another interesting stat? Under Bylsma, the team has clinched seven of their eight series victories on the road.