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Rangers stay alive behind scoring binge
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - With their season on the verge of demise, the New York Rangers' offense finally sprung to life.
After mustering a mere two goals over three straight losses in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Rangers scored four over the first two periods en route to a 5-1 Game 5 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins that staved off elimination.
Derick Brassard led the charge with a pair of goals and an assist, with Mats Zuccarello lending three helpers to support a 31-save effort from Henrik Lundqvist.
Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider each added a goal and an assist, while Kevin Klein tacked on an empty-net tally to finish off the rout.
"We needed to step up tonight," said Brassard. "I don't think the last two games ... we were OK. We didn't play bad but we were nothing special. We just tried to play hard today. We had some lucky bounces and we made some plays."
Evgeni Malkin had the lone goal for Pittsburgh, which will attempt to again close out the series when it shifts back to Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who helped Pittsburgh build a 3-1 series lead by recording shutouts in Games 2 and 3, stopped just 30-of-34 shots.
Perhaps drawing additional inspiration from the presence of forward Martin St. Louis, who returned to the team one day after his mother, France, suddenly passed away in his native Quebec, the Rangers' sense of urgency was evident right from the start.
New York outshot the Penguins 10-3 over the game's opening 10 minutes and peppered Fleury with 17 chances while jumping out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Kreider, playing for just the second time in this postseason after missing time with a broken hand, began New York's outburst by putting home a long rebound of a McDonagh shot with the Rangers on the power play midway through the first period.
The goal snapped an 0-for-36 drought with the man advantage for New York, tied with the 2007 Anaheim Ducks for the longest in NHL playoff history.
"I think we've been doing some things well on the power play," Kreider said. "It's hard when you see that looming statistic. But it's nice when you finally get one. I think it was huge. I think it was a really important goal."
Brassard made it 2-0 nearly five minutes later, backhanding the carom of Zuccarello's initial attempt while left alone in front of the Penguins' net.
"They came really hard, really aggressive down the walls," Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said of the Rangers. "We turned over a few pucks as a result, let to their offensive-zone time. In addition to that we had some unforced errors."
Pittsburgh came out with noticeably more energy in the second period and quickly closed the gap courtesy of Malkin, who powered through a pair of Ranger defenders prior to slipping the puck underneath Lundqvist 3:23 into the session.
The momentum was short-lived, though, as the Rangers scored 50 seconds apart to put Pittsburgh at a 4-1 deficit.
Brassard's second of the night came on a second-chance try after taking in a heady drop pass from Zuccarello, who also set up McDonagh's goal -- a long slap shot that Fleury appeared to lose sight of as it whistled past his glove at 8:48 of the frame.
Lundqvist helped prevent any comeback hopes by coming up with 14 saves in the second period, and the Penguins generated few scoring opportunities in the third.
Klein's empty-netter occurred with 2:29 left to play, with Bylsma opting to pull Fleury for an extra attacker with still more than five minutes remaining.
The Rangers hadn't scored on the power play since Benoit Pouliot connected in Game 2 of their opening-round series against Philadelphia ... Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik did not play after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Wednesday's Game 4 win at Madison Square Garden ... Pens forward Jussi Jokinen had an eight-game point streak halted ... The Rangers are 5-2 in this year's playoffs when scoring first ... St. Louis registered just one shot on goal in 16-plus minutes of ice time.
05/10 00:12:06 ET