Tonight could be the final game the New York Rangers play before an offseason loaded with unknowns. After dropping Games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh, the Blueshirts’ season is on the brink. Trailing 3-1 in this opening round playoff series, the Rangers will need a victory tonight in order to stave off elimination and send the series back to Pittsburgh for a potential Game 6.
Each of the previous five playoff clashes between New York and Pittsburgh have seen the series reach a point of one team leading the other by a 3-1 margin. The Penguins were the leaders in four of those five series, and ended New York’s season with a Game 5 victory in three (1996, 2008, and 2016) of those instances. The Blueshirts knocked the Penguins out in a decisive Game 5 in 2015, while the 2014 edition of Game 5 was the first of three consecutive Rangers’ victories en route to rallying from the deficit and winning the series.
Player to Watch: Igor Shesterkin
After getting yanked in each of the two previous games, Igor Shesterkin will once again get the nod in goal for New York. Shesterkin was announced as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender yesterday, and is all but assured to take home that individual trophy. However, Shesterkin will need to play like that goaltender rather than the one from Games 3 and 4 in order to extend this series.
Enjoy the game!