The New York Rangers got the job done tonight and eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins courtesy of Carl Hagelin's series clinching goal just 10:52 into the first overtime period. Just like it has been throughout the series, the Rangers had to battle their way back after Pittsburgh tied it late in the second period. As difficult as these games were, you have to give the Rangers a ton of credit for sticking to the game plan, and ultimately sending the Penguins packing.
Henrik Lundqvist was an absolute monster in this game, and kept the Rangers above water at certain points during the game. Most notably during the third period, when the Penguins were pressing for a goal to potentially extend this series, as well as their season. Aside from the game itself, there was a major scare nearing the end of the first period when Ryan McDonagh's point shot hit Mats Zuccarello on the side of the helmet.
Zuccarello was visibly shaken up, barely made it to the bench, and wound up heading to the locker room a short time later. When the Rangers came out at the start of the second period, Zuccarello did not accompany them, and the Rangers announced shortly after that he was done for the game. It certainly didn't look too good from what the replays have shown, and we can only hope he was held out for precautionary reasons. The Rangers absolutely need him moving forward, and if he is out for any extended amount of time, it could certainly change everything.
Anyways, on to the game. The Rangers wound up getting an extremely quick to start to this game after Nick Spaling took a tripping penalty just 4:11 into regulation. It only took the Rangers as 12 seconds to find the back of the net, as Derek Stepan kicked the puck to his stick, and banged home the rebound. Marc-Andre Fleury was never able to hang on to the rebound produced from Dan Boyle's point shot, and the Rangers gained the early 1-0 lead.
There was a bit of a gap in the scoring as the Rangers closed out the period with a 1-0 lead, while also holding a 12-6 shot advantage over the Penguins. After some heavy pressure by the Penguins in the second period, they finally broke through at the 17:23 mark courtesy of Nick Spaling. It was a bit of a broken play off to the side of the net, and as a crowd gathered in front of Lundqvist, the puck deflected in off of Spaling's elbow.
It was a deflating goal to give up at that point of the game, and the Rangers needed a big effort in the third period to bounce back. As you would expect though, Pittsburgh came out flying in the third period, and pushed the Rangers back on their heels for a majority of the period. Lundqvist was an absolute monster in this period and made several key saves to force this game into overtime.
Right from the puck drop in overtime, the Rangers and Penguins were trading rushes each and every time up the ice. Finally, just past the halfway mark, the Rangers caught their break. Dominic Moore created the entire goal by making two huge plays below the goal line to keep the puck in the zone. That eventually paved the way for Carl Hagelin to walk out from behind the net, and rip the game winner past Fleury to clinch the 4-1 series win.
This one felt good, let's do it again, shall we?