Lineup changes from last game
As expected, none for Pittsburgh, who started the game with the same personnel and lines that they used in Games 3 and 4.
New York, however, shuffled the deck big time, as teams that lose 5-0 usually do. They sat forward Tanner Glass to dress and extra defenseman to go with 11F + 7D (instead of the typical 12F, 6D). They also made Dan Boyle a healthy scratch to bring in another new defenseman. Raphael Diaz (who played 0 NHL games this season before today) got in the lineup, as did the possibly injured Dan Girardi.
Also of interest, Kevin Hayes (who finished tied-6th on the team in regular season scoring for forwards) remained a healthy scratch for the second game in a row.
The Rangers get off to a quick start, scoring one the first shot of the game 62 seconds into the contest, with Rick Nash deflecting a Girardi point-shot to make it 1-0 NYR very early.
Pittsburgh would strike back with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin hooking up with some nice back-and-forth passing with Hagelin scoring his first playoff goal against his old team to tie the game.
Scoring a playoff goal is awesome. It's even better when you score it against your former team. pic.twitter.com/DGyOPXYoKT— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2016
It wouldn't stay tied for long, less than a minute later NYR strikes again on a fluky play. Matt Murray can't pick up where the puck is in time and it appears to bounce off Patric Hornqvist 's skate and into the net. 2-1 NY.
Kessel scored on the power play to make it 2-2 with his old-fashioned "skate fast down the right, snap a shot to the left" move. Nice pass by Sidney Crosby to catch the Rangers trying to hold the blueline slow-footed.
Yeah, he's Phil'in it. pic.twitter.com/LfW0junAOv— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2016
The Pens take their first lead of the game following a beautiful fake-shot by Trevor Daley which froze the defense, and opened a lane for Daley to make a nice pass down to Bryan Rust. Rust accepts the pass and beats Henrik Lundqvist to make it 3-2.
That pass from Daley though. https://t.co/zjs957yI6j— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2016
Pittsburgh pushes the lead out to 4-2 following some great pressure on NYR in their own end, with Rust harassing Derick Brassard causing a turnover for who else but Matt Cullen to jump on and fire a puck by Lundqvist to extend the lead to 4-2 Pens.
The Pens stretch the lead out to 5-2 when Nash misses an open-net chance and Crosby quickly carries the puck up the zone. The defense backs way off, so Crosby pulls up and finds a streaking (and wide open) Conor Sheary who has plenty of time to pick his spot high-glove on Lundqvist
Getting backlogged on goal replays is a good problem to have...https://t.co/RXnrV27d6Q— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2016
ryan Rust strikes again for his second goal of the game, nice pass from Evgeni Malkin on the 2-on-1. Brady Skjei won't have this one on his highlight reel. 6-2 Pens and this one is getting out of control.
He doesn't look Rusty to us...https://t.co/8WJnXg7QGG— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 23, 2016
~~Lundqvist on the bench at the start of the period, meaning the rest of this game is mainly garbage time, which is how the Penguins played with little motivation or effort, really.
The Rangers score on a power play with Diaz shooting the puck from the point with Chris Krieder in front and it gets by Matt Murray to make it 6-3.
That would be as close as they would get though and the game and series ends with a huge Pittsburgh win. No doubt who the better team was this time around.
- Unlike Game 4 (which started 6-0 in shots for the Pens), the Rangers flipped the script and fired 8 of the first 9 shots today in Game 5, with the only Penguin effort being a long-range, weak one at that.
- And even after a really good first period for the Rangers, they were still just tied. Pittsburgh had weathered the storm and taken the push NYR made and then turned on the afterburners to leave them behind.
- The Penguins power play continues to be a big weapon, scoring early in the game to tie it back up.
- The penalty kill has been just as valuable, even if they did allow a goal in garbage time. The Rangers only scored 2 PPG all series.
- This game entered the 2nd period 2-2, ended the 2nd period 6-2. Everything went right for the Pens, who continue the trend of being the best team in the league in the middle stanza.
- And of those 4 second period goals, all came from bottom-6 players. That certainly would never have happened in 2014 or 2015 for the Penguins with less depth.
- Even with that depth coming through, the stars weren't invisible either. Kessel was easily the Pens best player in the first, Crosby ended up with another multi-point game and Malkin picked up an assist as well. The team is well-balanced and getting offense out of seemingly everyone.
- Murray had an interesting game, and he had to be sharp all the way through the end when the Rangers had a shooting gallery going in the 3rd period. Murray finishes the game with 38 saves on 41 shots.
- The Pens end up scoring 10 goals in the final 4 period they saw Lundqvist. Just incredible job by them this season when in the past playoffs they were seemingly scoring 0, 1 or 2 goals per game on him.
- One quarter of the way there.
Extremely satisfying series as a fan with the Penguins finally getting over the Lundqvist/Rangers hill on the third attempt in as many playoffs. It wasn't perfect, and there still are some concerns, but winning 4 games to 1, and especially winning the last two games in such an emphatic fashion shows these Penguins are for real.