Unhappy with the way they played in two bad losses on the road that pushed them to the brink of elimination, the New York Rangers bounced back with a needed win to keep their season going.
Filip Chytil scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
Jacob Trouba and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist, and Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin, torched for 10 goals over three periods in the previous two games, had 27 saves.
“We were not happy with what happened in Pittsburgh,” Chytil said. “We just didn’t play the whole season [the] way that we played, just (to) lose games like this in Pittsburgh. So we just had a good meeting, good practice yesterday and we just believed today that we’re gonna win and we’re gonna go back to Pittsburgh.”
Jake Guentzel had two goals and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which leads the best of seven series 3-2. Evgeni Malkin had two assists and Louis Domingue finished with 29 saves.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby left with about seven minutes remaining in the second period after taking a hard high hit from Trouba in the offensive zone minutes earlier. He did not return.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby had an upper body injury and his status was being evaluated.
Game 6 is Friday in Pittsburgh, and a potential deciding Game 7 would be Sunday back at Madison Square Garden.
“We played a good 60 minutes,” Lafreniere said. “We defended well and played a good all-around game. We did a good job of staying calm. We have to keep it going and win Game 6. We played a really good one when we needed it most.”
The Rangers got their first power play of the night early in the third period and took advantage as Chytil got a pass from Lafreniere in the right circle, turned around and whipped a shot past Domingue to put the Rangers ahead 4-3 at 2:53.
Lindgren sealed the win with an empty-netter with 16 seconds left.
Letang extended the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 at 7:58 of the second as he got a cross-ice pass from Malkin and fired a slap shot past Shesterkin on Pittsburgh’s first shot on goal of the period.
The Rangers then took the lead as they scored on three consecutive shots in a 2:42 span late in the second.
Fox got the Rangers on the scoreboard with 4:49 left as he got the puck inside the blue line, slowly skated up and fired a shot from the top of the right circle past Domingue’s shoulder.
“Once we got that first goal, it was a big boost for our club,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I felt real confident about today. You’ve got to take it one game at a time. We were down three games to one, today I felt real good about our team.”
Lafreniere tied it 90 seconds later as he quickly fired a slap shot in front off a centring pass from Kaapo Kakko.
Trouba put the Rangers ahead another 1:12 later as he skated across the right circle and put a backhander from the middle through Domingue’s skates.
“They pushed, we had a couple of extended D-zone shifts, and we didn’t get it done defensively,” Sullivan said. “We got an experienced group. We just got to keep playing the game. ... We didn’t win the wall battles, we didn’t get pucks out, and as a result we had four, five minutes of extended defensive zone play. We simply have to do a better job there.”
The lead lasted just 13 seconds as Guentzel tied it with his second of the night and seventh of the series as he scored off a centring pass from Malkin.
The Rangers outshot the Penguins 11-10 in the first period, limited mostly to shots from the outside.
The Penguins had a 5-on-3 power play early when Chris Kreider was called for slashing and Jacob Trouba for elbowing just 24 seconds into the game. The Rangers held them just two shots on goal during the advantage, with Shesterkin making a nice glove save on Guentzel.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left as Guentzel got the rebound of his own shot and sent a centring pass from behind the goal-line that deflected off Shesterkin’s leg and in. It was his sixth goal of the series.
Lindgren returned to the Rangers’ lineup after missing the previous three games following an upper body injury in Game 1 of this series. The Rangers went with seven defencemen and 11 forwards. Lindgren then left the with an apparent injury early in the second period and headed to the dressing room minutes later. He returned late in the period.
Kreider played in his 85th career playoff game, tying Don Maloney for the sixth place on the franchise list.
Guentzel scored for the fifth straight game, tying Jaromir Jagr (1996, 2000) and Kevin Stevens (1991) for the fourth-longest streak in one post-season in franchise history. Mario Lemieux (seven twice, six) has the top three. ... D Mike Matheson had an assist on Guentzel’s goal, extending his point streak to four games (one goal, five assists). ... Fox (three goals, two assists) extended his point streak to five games.