Igor Shesterkin Rangers
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

Nothing is certain. The Rangers have learned that many times over during this first-round playoff series. But the stars appear to be aligning for Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby is out for Friday’s Game 6 in Pittsburgh with an undisclosed upper body injury. Defenseman Jacob Trouba didn’t get suspended. Forward Tyler Motte could return from injury and be back on the ice. The clock may have begun to wind toward midnight for Penguins goalie Louis Domingue in Game 5. And the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin has to have gotten the yips out, right?

It’s hard to remember a wilder series than this one. The Rangers’ triple-overtime Game 1 loss — after a controversial overturned goal in the final minutes of regulation — felt like it could have been a knockout punch. But they responded in Game 2, only to get absolutely blitzed in Games 3 and 4 on the road. And it was more of the same in Game 5 at home before Crosby got hurt and their frenetic comeback from a 2-0 deficit began.

Now, amazingly, the series feels like it is shifting back toward the Rangers. This might be the Penguins’ best shot to wrap things up, even with Crosby out. If they can’t win at home, it will be very difficult to win Game 7 in the Garden, with or without Crosby.

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.