After dropping Game 1 in heartbreaking fashion, the New York Rangers responded in a big way this evening with a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers held a 3-2 lead heading into the third period before a pair of goals by Artemiy Panarin and Frank Vatrano gave New York some much needed insurance. Igor Shesterkin was solid once again for the Rangers, and kept his team alive with Pittsburgh pressuring early in the game.
The Rangers’ starts have never been an issue thus far in the playoffs, and another quick start gave them a 1-0 lead just 6:50 into the opening period. Artemiy Panarin, who had a rough opening game with Pittsburgh keying on him, setup the first goal of the game with a beautiful centering feed. Andrew Copp was able to one-time the puck while falling to one knee and slid into the net after taking a deflection off of a defender.
The Rangers held onto their lead for exactly 2:02 before a scoring chance by the Penguins ended up in the back of their net. Artemiy Panarin was caught puck watching in the defensive zone, and gave Jake Guentzel a little too much room in the high slot. Marcus Pettersson’s attempted centering pass wound up deflecting off of K’Andre Miller’s skate and landed right on the tape of Guentzel for the easy tap in.
The Rangers got some much needed momentum early in the second period as Pittsburgh was finally called for just their second penalty of the series. New York has been scary all season long when you give them a chance on the man-advantage and they delivered once again. After the Rangers got into their power play formation, Artemiy Panarin worked the puck up high for a one-timer attempt by Adam Fox. Ryan Strome was perfectly in line with the shot and opened up his stick to allow the deflection. Louis Domingue never saw the shot as it slipped by him, and the Rangers took their second lead of the night.
Chris Kreider added an insurance marker just over three minutes later to give the Rangers some breathing room on the scoreboard. However, the Penguins were going to just lay down and they came storming back within the final two minutes of the period. Sidney Crosby made an unbelievable play as he entered the offensive zone and fought off the check from Justin Braun as he drove to the net. Crosby picked up the rebound after the initial shot attempt and snapped the puck between the legs of Igor Shesterkin to make it a one-goal game again.
With the Rangers backs’ against the wall to open the third period, the Rangers caught a huge break with a fluky bounce. The Rangers certainly earned that luck too as Artemiy Panarin made a great move around Kris Letang after whiffing on his original shot. Panarin drove the goal line with speed and wound up deflecting the puck off of Mike Matheson and in behind Louis Domingue. Just 1:47 later, Frank Vatrano all but iced the game as he flew down the right side of the ice and snapped a heavy shot under the crossbar to give New York a commanding 5-2 lead.
This game wouldn’t conclude without some festivities from the Penguins, however, as Jeff Carter sent MSG into a frenzy after colliding with Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers immediately came to the aide of their goaltender, who appeared to be in pain but he eventually popped back to his feet after collecting himself. The Rangers certainly needed the top of response they put forth tonight, and they will head into Pittsburgh with the series deadlocked at 1-1.