The Rangers are headed to Pittsburgh on even footing. And they will likely still be a tad feisty when they get there.
The Blueshirts used a pair of third-period goals to run away from the Penguins, 5-2, on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The victory squares the Eastern Conference first-round series at 1-1 entering Game 3 on Saturday. But while the result was not in doubt in the waning moments, the Rangers still got a gargantuan scare.
Star goalie Igor Shesterkin was shaken up after the Penguins’ Jeff Carter collided with him with under three minutes to go. Shesterkin was able to stay on the ice and close out another brilliant performance (39 saves) while Carter picked up minor penalties for interference and roughing.
The Penguins said it was clean hockey. The Rangers felt otherwise.
“I wasn’t too happy obviously in a game like that,” head coach Gerard Gallant told reporters after the game. “There’s no reason for it and I was disappointed them going after him a little bit like that. Carter’s a good honest player. But it just didn’t look good to me.”
The Rangers got a goal and two assists each from Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano as they rebounded from an excruciating triple-overtime loss in Game 1. Louis Domingue, Pittsburgh’s third-string goalie, was nowhere near effective after his surprise Game 1 stint.
Andrew Copp, Chad Kreider and Ryan Strome also had goals for the Rangers. Sidney Crosby and Jake Genteel scored for the Penguins. Shesterkin has now registered a combined 118 saves in the first two games of the series.
“I feel great,” Shesterkin told reporters through a interpreter. “They make about as much shots during practice on me, so I’m pretty used to it.”