Welcome back to the postseason, Recent York Rangers. The intensity, the pace, referees letting each teams play on. And on and on.
It’s been half a decade because the Rangers were within the playoffs, and their first game back within the hunt for the Stanley Cup was an easy reminder of why postseason hockey is so compelling and, for the losing team, heartbreaking.
The Rangers were that team on Tuesday once they lost a triple extra time slugfest to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3, in a game that set quite a few playoff records. After three periods of scoreless hockey within the third period and the primary two overtimes, Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins deflected a shot from the purpose from teammate John Marino past Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers goaltender, 5 minutes and 58 seconds within the third extra time to finish the longest opening game of a playoff series since 1939.
“It’s a playoff game against one in all our rivals,” said Penguins right wing Bryan Rust, who had a goal and two assists. “We knew it was going to be , fast, hard-hitting game and that’s what we got.”
The sport — the longest ever played in the present Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968 — featured nearly all the pieces: power play goals, short handed goals, goals reversed on review, shots hitting the goal posts, a goaltender limping off the ice with an apparent injury, and near miss after near miss after near miss.
The Rangers and Penguins combined for 151 shots on goal. Shesterkin, who led all goaltenders in goals against average through the regular season, stopped 79 shots, second most in a playoff game.
Shesterkin fell wanting the all time record for saves in a game, which was set in 2020 by Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who made 85 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That game was also the primary game of a first-round series. Shesterkin was the eighth goalie in N.H.L. history and first Ranger to make greater than 70 saves in a game.
On reflection, there have been many near misses that would have sent the fans home loads sooner than 11:48 p.m., when Malkin scored the game-winner. The largest opportunity got here with just over three minutes left in regulation time, when the Rangers appeared to attain a go-ahead goal.
Rangers wing Kaapo Kakko raced toward the goal as Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin trailed behind. Dumoulin appeared to push or lean on Kakko’s back as he crashed into the Penguin’s goaltender Casey DeSmith. Kakko slid past the online, tipped the puck to his teammate, Filip Chytil, who shot it into an unguarded net.
However the Penguins challenged the goal, and after a video review, the referee determined that Kakko was not pushed and thus had interfered with Smith and the goal got here off the board.
“It was a 3 extra time game, so you could possibly look back on loads of plays,” Rangers center Ryan Strome said afterward. “It was a 4-3 game, but they got the one goal that mattered.”
The Rangers were younger and fewer experienced than the Penguins. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are the one players left from the team’s last trip to the postseason in 2017. Shesterkin had a wonderful season but had played in only one postseason game.
The Penguins, against this, have been postseason fixtures for 16 consecutive years. The triumvirate of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Malkin have played nearly 500 playoff games, all with Pittsburgh, and have won three Stanley Cups together.
The Rangers — the sixth youngest team within the league — got here out just like the hungrier team in the primary period, throwing their weight around and attending to pucks faster than the Penguins, who’ve the fourth oldest roster.
Rangers defenseman Adam Fox began the scoring near the midpoint of the period when he took a pass from Zibanejad and fired a wrist shot from near the blue line that sailed over DeSmith’s right shoulder.
The Rangers’ exuberance got the higher of them at times. With lower than two minutes in the primary period, defenseman Ryan Lindgren was sent off for 2 minutes after he shoved his shoulder into the jaw of Pittsburgh winger Rickard Rakell. Rakell’s head snapped and he fell to the ice and needed to be helped off. Lindgren was initially given a five-minute penalty that was reduced to a two-minute minor.
Within the second period, the Rangers picked up where they left off. Just over three minutes into the period, Strome skated behind the online and fed a pass to Andrew Copp, who buried a shot from close range while sliding toward the online on one knee.
But just because the Rangers appeared to get comfortable, the Penguins found their footing. Lower than 90 second later Crosby passed the puck in front of the online, where Jake Guentzel, the team’s leading goal scorer, tipped it into the online.
Seven minutes later, Crosby after he sliced through the highest of the zone unguarded again found Guentzel. Shesterkin barely had a likelihood to react.
The Rangers regained the lead after Patrik Nemeth was sent off for his second penalty of the sport. In the course of the Pittsburgh power play, Zibanejad took the puck in a face off, fought his way up ice and located Kreider racing down the left side. Kreider faked DeSmith and scored on a backhand for a short-handed goal.
Before Nemeth could return from the penalty box, though, Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was sent off as well. Down two men, the Rangers almost burned off Nemeth’s penalty. But Malkin passed to Letang who tipped the puck to Rust to tie the rating at three goals each.
The Penguins outshot the Rangers 25-8 within the second period.
Neither team scored within the third period or in the primary two overtimes, and there have been no penalties either. Because the game wore on, the players were slower attending to their benches, their passes weren’t as crisp they usually collided with one another more often.
Midway through the second extra time, DeSmith limped off the ice and went to the locker room during a timeout. He was replaced by Louis Domingue, who had played just two games this season. He stopped all 17 shots he faced.
After the sport, Domingue said that he had eaten a meal of spicy pork and broccoli between the primary and second intermission. “Not the most effective,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be getting in.”
Their jerseys and skates soaked with sweat, the players gave the impression to be weighed down. Guentzel said he and his teammates ate bananas and energy bars between periods.
“I feel great,” he told the Sportsnet before heading to the locker room after the sport.
He and the Penguins little doubt felt that, and relief, after Malkin found the online with the game-winner.