The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime to capture the series and move to the second round. They will play the winner of the New York Islanders-Washington Capitals series.
With 9:08 left in overtime, Carl Hagelin whipped out from behind the net and shot the puck just passed goalie Marc-Andre Fleury as he fell to the ice. The red light went off and Madison Square Garden exploded. It is his first career overtime playoff goal. His teammates cleared the bench and piled on top of him as the arena shook.
Derek Stepan scored early in the first period on the power play to give the team a 1-0 lead. However, the mood went downhill when the puck struck Mats Zuccarello on the head. Zuccarello, a crucial player, left the game. His status is still unknown.
Both teams were fierce and aggressive in the second period. While both goalies played extremely well, it was the crossbar and goalposts that were the players’ worst enemy. It took a fluke to put the puck in the net though. The pass shot off Lundqvist, hit Nick Spaling’s arm, and dumped into the net. Hockey allows the goal to count as long as the player did not deliberately push in the puck with his arm.
Fans bit their nails and shushed in the third period until Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi tripped, accidentally grabbed Sidney Crosby’s stick, and then grabbed his arm. Crosby fell and the refs called Girardi for tripping. This ticked off the aggressive fans who woke up and screamed “Crosby sucks!” The move also infuriated Lundqvist, who successfully killed off the penalty. Towards the end of the period, Dan Boyle missed an open net shot after a beautiful pass from J.T. Miller.
The incident provided enough fire for both teams. Spectators could not believe the players in front of them had already played 60 minutes. Overtime was fast and harsh. Crosby shot the puck towards Lundqvist at 4:20, but the goalie saved the shot and the series. Then Hagelin finished it.
The Rangers won the series 4-1, but the series was a lot closer. In all four games, the Rangers won 2-1. The Penguins provided hockey’s best team with an intense challenge. The Rangers will face more heat against the Capitals or Islanders.