The one unknown was playoff experience and the power to win on the most important stage. They actually have that now to go along with a generous dose of confidence.
Gallant had faith in Panarin, saying after the sport that he had a sense the Russian forward, despite not standing out earlier in the sport, would come through. And he did, with only nine seconds remaining on the ability play. Panarin took the puck from Adam Fox at the highest of the appropriate face-off circle, skated just a few paces toward goal after which fired off his right foot, beating Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry on the short side through a screen, and unleashing a wild celebration on the ice and within the stands.
“Truthfully, they’ve been letting me shoot for the reason that first game,” Panarin said through an interpreter. “My bad, I haven’t really been making those shots. But perhaps I should take heed to everyone’s advice now and really get on the market and take shots.”
The tying goal got here with 5:45 remaining within the third period after a play that angered Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan. Pittsburgh’s Marcus Pettersson lost his helmet behind the Penguins’ goal after getting twisted up with Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière, and by rule Pettersson needed to either find his helmet and put it back on or leave the ice for safety reasons. Pettersson headed toward the bench.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh’s best defenseman, took Petterson’s place, but he skated to the web, in front of Jarry, and was not able to challenge Zibanejad’s shot. And if Pettersson had been on the ice, he might need helped the Penguins clear the puck. Sullivan, not surprisingly, will not be a fan of the rule.
“I believe it stinks,” he said. “He has to come back off. His helmet got pulled off intentionally, but that’s the rule.”
For the Penguins, who were within the playoffs for the sixteenth straight yr, the loss was especially difficult to bear since it might be the last season of their longtime core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Letang playing together. The latter two could be free agents and sign with other teams.