Rangers edge Pens in OT to open series
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Derick Brassard scored at 3:06 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The end of the game was far from conventional.
Brassard knew he scored off a feed from Benoit Pouliot, but the game went on. Seconds later, with the Penguins still scrambling around in their zone, Brassard set up Pouliot for what appeared to be the winning goal.
The original shot by Brassard was reviewed and showed the puck clearly going underneath the crossbar and inside the left post. Because the puck sprung back out so quickly, it wasn't evident that it was a good goal and play continued, albeit momentarily.
"It was all (Pouliot's) play," Brassard said. "First of all, he cut (off) the pass behind the net and right away he found me in front of the net. At first, I thought it went in. I thought it went under the bar and the ref said it wasn't in. The puck came back to me and (Pouliot) was open. It was a great feeling."
Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves for the Rangers, including one on Lee Stempniak in the final 11 seconds of regulation.
New York won a Game 7 at home against Philadelphia on Wednesday to advance to the second round for the third consecutive year.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24-of-27 shots for Pittsburgh, which ousted Columbus in six games in the opening round.
"They got the first one tonight. It's disappointing, but (we) got to have a short memory," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.
The Rangers, playing in a third different city in four days, led 2-0 after a strong first period on goals by Pouliot and birthday boy Brad Richards.
Pouliot had the game-winner in Game 7 against the Flyers and scored the opening goal of this series.
Dan Girardi blocked a shot from the Penguins' Chris Kunitz, leading to a counterattack by New York. Pouliot lugged the puck down the ice, made a move on Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta to get across the Pittsburgh blue line and snapped a shot from the high slot past Fleury at 5:04.
Kunitz was later cross-checked into Lundqvist by Dominic Moore after two shots from the doorstep. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis failed to convert two prime shorthanded chances off passes from Mats Zuccarello, missing the net each time.
Richards didn't miss after a hard forecheck by Carl Hagelin, who won a puck battle against Maatta in the right corner. Hagelin then fed a wide-open Richards, who turned 34 on Friday, in the slot. After collecting the pass on his backhand, he shifted the puck to his forehand and beat Fleury.
The goal came shortly after a blown hand pass call against the Penguins, ending a sequence in the New York zone.
"We came out hard. We played very well at the beginning," Pouliot said.
After it was all Rangers in the first period, the Penguins owned the second and tied the game.
Stempniak handled a drop pass from Beau Bennett on the rush, skated down the middle and fired a backhander from between the circles behind Lundqvist at 7:15.
The second Pittsburgh goal also featured a player finding the late man on a rush. James Neal collected Jussi Jokinen's feed and fired a shot off Lundqvist's blocker. The rebound popped up into the air, fell behind Lundqvist and crossed the goal line with Evgeni Malkin in the face of the Rangers' goaltender with 6:32 remaining in the period.
The goal went to review to see if Malkin touched the puck with a high stick, but the Pittsburgh forward never made contact with the puck.
"For whatever reason, we didn't come out hard enough," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby. "I thought those goals in the second definitely gave us a boost. I thought from there on we had some good chances. Pretty even after that."
Game 2 is Sunday night in the Steel City ... The Penguins won all four previous playoff series against the Rangers, going 16-4 in those games ... The Penguins and Rangers split their four meetings during the regular season ... Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play ... The Rangers ended the series against Philadelphia by failing to score 21 straight times with the man advantage ... Pittsburgh forward Craig Adams played in his 100th career playoff game.
05/03 00:33:45 ET