The New York Rangers have taken a strangle hold on the best of seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with Wednesday night’s 2-1 overtime win thanks to rookie Kevin Hayes. From the opening face-off, Pittsburgh was relentless on the puck, winning battles, and had the Rangers on their heels the entire first period. Pittsburgh played with desperation, and it paid off as they got a goal by Patric Hornqvist just two minutes into the game.
However, from the second period until the overtime, the Rangers started playing like the President’s Trophy winning team every fan has seen. They kicked it into high gear and pushed the Penguins onto the brink of elimination.
Brassard, a player who seems to shine in the playoff spotlight, tied the game at one in the second period (his third goal of the postseason). Henrik Lundqvist made twenty two saves to keep the Rangers in the game, despite being heavily outplayed in the first period. Finally, just three minutes into the overtime, Kevin Hayes scores his first ever playoff goal and is the first Rangers rookie to score a playoff overtime goal on the road.
The unsung hero in this game and series is Dan Girardi. He makes the smart suttle plays in all three zones of the ice and is the defensive catalyst. He lead the team in hits and blocked shots during the regular season, and that style of play has certainly carried over into the playoffs. All series long he has made defensive plays from breaking up odd man rushes to blocking shots that have been in key situations in order to save the game. He is their iron man on the backend and hardly ever misses a game due to injury.
For example, in the final minute of the third period, the Rangers had quite the scare. Henrik Lundqvist came out of his net to stop the puck, leaving a wide open goal for the Penguins to shoot at. Dan Girardi stood in front of that net, blocked the shot, saved the goal, and cleared the puck.
As the series moves back to New York, the Rangers have a 3-1 lead on the series and look to eliminate the Penguins on home ice in front of the Garden Faithful. Lets be loud and proud on Friday and keep the Garden rocking.