Rangers leave Pittsburgh in a Hayes, go up 3-1 in the series (NYR 2 v PIT 1 OT)

Hayes and Hagelin celebrate OT winner (Getty Images)

Hayes and Hagelin celebrate OT winner (Getty Images)

It was a tale of two teams, and I’m not talking about the Penguins here. Last night the Rangers came out and looked tentative and tense. They were outshot and only mustered two shots on goal for the opening period. When the first 20 expired, they were fortunate to only be down by 1.

NYR 2 v PIT 1 (NHL.com)

NYR 2 v PIT 1 (NHL.com)

According to the players, Alain Vigneault let them hear it in the locker room. No, it wasn’t likely a John Tortorella rant, but Chris Kreider used the words “fired up” as way to classify it. Still, it took some time in the second period for the Rangers to transform into the team that won 53 games this season.

The likely turning point was an embellishment by Maxim Lapierre that drew a two minute minor on Dominic Moore. Lapierre heads straight for Moore looking to instigate and Moore simply pushed him away with a two hander to his chest. Lapierre than turned around and grabbed his face like he just got hit by Wladimir Klitschko. After the Rangers killed off the minor, the ice tilted towards Marc-Andre Fleury for the remainder of the game.

New York would knot the score at 1 late in the 2nd period when Penguin Killer, Derick Brassard scored his third of the playoffs. Rick Nash made the play to the net from the corner and Ryan McDonagh helped cause the chaos that resulted in the equalizer. The third period had it’s share of scares for both sides. However, the biggest one came when Henrik Lundqvist came out to play a puck that found it’s way in the slot. With Henrik out of position and a Penguin bearing down on the game winner, it was Dan Girardi once again coming up big with the clear.

As the game went into OT, the sense was that the Rangers looked poised and ready to take this game. When the extra session started it was all Rangers as they dominated play and eventually cashed in just 3:14 into OT. It was the Rangers third shot of the period and it was rookie Kevin Hayes who cashed in on the rebound using his strength, size and skill.

[su_quote cite=”Blueshirts United” url=”https://www.blueshirtsunited.com/article/rangers-grab-3-1-series-lead-hayes-ot-goal”]”It will be a memorable one for sure,” said Hayes, while wearing the Broadway Hat after the game. “I thought my two linemates worked hard and got the puck to the net, and it was lucky it ended up on my stick. I was on the other side there, and I was just fortunate.”[/su_quote]

The best part of the win last night was the OT celebration. That’s what the Stanley Cup Playoffs are all about. Hayes’ face was lit up, but you have to see Carl Hagelin‘s joy right behind him. Keith Yandle who was the first player to reach them, kind of slapped Hayes’ hand then inexplicably jumped into the arms of Matt Hunwick. At the other end, Lundqvist pumped his fist and was greeted by Rick Nash who knew that without Lundqvist’s brilliant goaltending, there is no OT celebration.

New York will look to close out the Penguins on Garden ice this Friday night at 7pm.


Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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