Logic says you cannot win a seven-game series in Game 1. But it sure feels like the Penguins may have done it.
Evgeni Malkin’s deflection got past Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin six minutes into the third overtime period Tuesday night, lifting Pittsburgh to a 4-3 win in an epic opening game of the Eastern Conference first round.
It was a brutal loss for the Blueshirts. They blew a two-goal lead in the second period, the go-ahead goal was controversially waved off with three minutes to go in regulation and the Rangers squandered a brilliant 79-save performance by Shesterkin. And now a young team has lost home ice advantage and is down 1-0 to a grizzled veteran group with several Stanley Cups under their belt.
All hope is not lost. The Rangers were considered the heavy favorite to win the series coming in, and they dominated the Penguins early on. Pittsburgh may also be down to its third-string goalkeeper after Louis Domingue came on for backup Casey DeSmith, who left due to injury in the second OT (starter Tristan Jarry is also injured).
But this is going to be a tough one to recover from.
Adam Fox had a first-period power play goal and Andrew Copp scored early in the second period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Jake Guentzel then scored twice to pull the game even before a short-handed goal by Chad Kreider put the Rangers back ahead. But the Penguins’ Bryan Rust then capitalized on a power play before the end of the period to tie the game at 3.
The Rangers thought they had taken a 4-3 lead on a Filip Chytil goal with just over three minutes to go. But Pittsburgh challenged the goal and it was overturned on goalie interference by Kappa Kakko after video review. That led to the overtime marathon, which dragged on for over 40 more minutes of game time before Malkin ended it.
Filip Chytil's goal was overturned for goaltender interference. Thoughts? ?#StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/t7LmMHyRsg
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 4, 2022
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]