The Pens’ persistence paid off 10:28 into the game for the first goal. Jake Guentzel followed up his own shot, and then from behind the net tried to jam it off Igor Shesterkin and in the net. Like almost everything Guentzel is doing these days, it worked. 1-0 Pens.
JAKE GUENTZEL HAS SCORED AT LEAST ONE GOAL IN EVERY GAME IN THIS SERIES.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 11, 2022
Since making his NHL playoff debut in 2017, Guentzel’s 32 playoff goals are tied for second in the league. pic.twitter.com/HbrJaarHnq
Early in the second, the Rangers made a push and got the first six shots of the period. Like most of their first period shots, Pittsburgh kept them to the outside really well. The best chance and one lone slip was when Artemi Panarin found space in the slot and got a nice pass to put a shot on net. Louis Domingue was up for the challenge.
And then, after surviving that push, the Pens struck back. Brock McGinn chipped the puck up the ice and Jason Zucker kept it in the zone until Evgeni Malkin could take over. Malkin made an incredible pass over for Kris Letang, who was able to fire with his right-handed shot from the left side of the ice quickly. It took 7:58 into the second for the Pens to get Letang’s shot on goal as their first of the period, but it was a meaningful one because it ended up in the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Pens looked like they were in cruise control, until the game changed. Sidney Crosby left the game after absorbing a hit from Jacob Trouba in the middle of the ice. His absence turned the game almost immediately, when Jeff Carter got promoted to the top line, Pittsburgh got pinned in their own zone and the Rangers got some life with a goal to break the ice. Adam Fox got a shot from the point through a bunch of traffic that Louis Domingue wasn’t able to track.
Three goals in 2:42 started with Foxy... pic.twitter.com/oa4yruy7hl— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 12, 2022
Just 1:30 later, the surging Rangers would tie the game. Again they trapped the Pittsburgh in their own end and broke down the defense with a pass out that Alexis Lafreniere buried past the extended leg of Domingue.
With the Rangers in firm control of the momentum, they would take their first lead in a while when Jacob Trouba walked right around Carter (ouch) and then backhanded a weak shot by Domingue (double ow). In just 2:42 it looked like the Pens would guide this one home and turned into a shocking 3-2 NYR lead.
CHOO CHOO THE TRAIN'S ON THE MOVE pic.twitter.com/X3t3LVlVTn— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 12, 2022
With the Pens clearly reeling, it only took 13 seconds for Guentzel to throw a lifeline and tie the game up. Malkin, now promoted to the top line, did a great job to swoop around the net and again made a great pass out for Guentzel in the danger zone to snap in to tie the game at 3-3.
Early in the third, the Rangers would go to the power play with Marcus Pettersson going off for interference. The Pens kill nearly worked but they got pulled out of their structure with a failed Brian Boyle rush that sent NYR going the other way. The puck eventually got to Filip Chytil low and he ripped a shot short-side on the right handed Domingue’s blocker to re-establish a lead at 4-3.
ANOTHER FIRST CAREER STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF GOAL FOR ONE OF OUR KIDS. pic.twitter.com/fInx9B9WjM— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 12, 2022
Down the stretch the Pens would be their own worst enemy taking a pair of minor penalties and Malkin picking up four minutes of them with frustration calls against him. NY didn’t score but chipped away valuable time.
After a late push fell short of scoring, Ryan Lindgren flipped a puck from his own zone that rolled into the empty cage to set the final score as a 5-3 NYR win and extend their season.
- Just 24 seconds into the game, the Pens got a golden opportunity with a 5v3 power play because the Rangers got rung up for Trouba elbowing Guentzel in the head and then later in the sequence Chris Kreider slashed Crosby. And the Pens blew that chance to instantly push up the score. It didn’t seem to hurt them for a while, but when playing with a third string goalie, the Pens really need to score early and often in support.
- Domingue never saw the first goal go in, but better goaltending would be needed for playoff time on goals #2-4. Tough to ask a lot in the situation, and Domingue did step up with the glove to rob Kreider when the score was 4-3 to keep the game within reach, but otherwise it was a rough game.
- Made harder to swallow since the team defense efforts from Pittsburgh were really good early on. It was business as usual and all going according to plan...Until it wasn’t.
- And that Crosby loss was felt almost instantly. He would not return in the third period after taking the hit and leaving right away. It didn’t look like huge contact, but he did get hit somewhat high and twist.
- The Pens couldn’t find the tying goal late, but settled down and played better in the third period than they did in the second. The problem for them is they can carry play for most of the game, but the small slips are likely to hurt them a lot more.
Game 6 will be back in Pittsburgh on Friday night, where the Pens can take solace in winning the two previous games at home in this series. We’ll see what, if anything, comes out about Crosby’s status before game time for the developing huge turning point of the series.