May 13, 2014, 9:46 PM EDT
On four occasions during this postseason, the New York Rangers saw their season at risk of ending with one loss. They answered the call all four times, including in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, advancing to the conference finals with a 2-1 win.
To put it mildly, many will merely focus on the Penguins watching a 3-1 series lead slip away. You’ll see plenty of that fallout on PHT tonight.
Still, it’s easy to dismiss the triumphs of a team like the Rangers considering the juicier story like the Penguins “choking.” Make no mistake about it, though, the Blueshirts have been fantastic with their backs against the wall in these playoffs; NBCSN flashed the telling stat that the Rangers hadn’t trailed against the Penguins since Game 4 of this series.
Plenty of players stepped up for the Rangers, but Henrik Lundqvist really cemented his legacy as a guy who somehow finds another level in the biggest games (even if his team hasn’t made it to the Stanley Cup Final yet in his otherwise distinguished career). After all, the Penguins managed a 36-20 shot disparity in this do-or-die game.
The stupendous Swede limited opponents to one goal in each of his opponents’ four opportunities to eliminate the Rangers during these playoffs. Check out his work in greater detail:
Game 5: 36 out of 37 saves
Game 6: 31 out of 32 saves
Game 7: 35 out of 36 saves
Game 7: 26 out of 27 saves
Lundqvist and the Rangers have won five Game 7 contests in a row.
While a visit from Mario Lemieux seemed to set Marc-Andre Fleury on the right path – despite a setback and a shaky bit of puckhandling here and there – it seems like it might have come too late for Sidney Crosby. The NHL’s far-and-away leading scorer failed to score a single point in three elimination opportunities against the Rangers.
Evgeni Malkin grabbed an assist on Tuesday and had a strong series, yet the two didn’t dominate enough collectively for the liking of many, prompting the posting of stats like these:
It’s easy to boil it all down to Crosby, Malkin and Fleury “not getting it done.” Plenty of people will.
That ignores great efforts by Lundqvist and turnarounds including the Rangers winning the special teams battle. After all the hand-wringing about New York’s man advantage struggles, the Rangers scored three power-play goals in this series while the Penguins only managed one.
Brad Richards‘ PP goal stood as the winner:
Brian Boyle stood tall during many moments of Game 7, making some big plays and scoring the all-important first goal of this contest. The team who scored first won every contest in this series.
Whatever way you’d like to spin it, the Rangers are moving on to round three while the Penguins face another summer of questions, including what’s next for head coach Dan Bylsma:
As the Penguins ponder what’s next, the Rangers’ focus is simpler: they’ll await their next opponent as the Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens in a Game 7 of their own on Wednesday.
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