The playoff motto for the Rangers this year is "No Quit In New York", but few would have predicted this team coming back from consecutive 0-2 deficits in Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 in New York Sunday. Sure the Rangers have come back from 3-1 series deficits before, back in 2014 - against Pittsburgh, and then again in 2015 - against Washington, but to do so after giving up seven goals in each of Games 3 and 4 is pretty remarkable.
This is one of the least experienced Ranger teams to play in the playoffs in recent memory, and yet here we are heading back to MSG for a Game 7 against perhaps the most experienced of all. Of course injuries are certainly wearing on the Penguins, who started Game 6 without their starting and backup netminders, their Captain, a top pair defenseman and a second line wing, though with the exception of Crosby, they're basically the same team that ran the Rangers off the ice in Pittsburgh.
It sure wasn't a pretty win for New York either, but like Game 5, they struck quickly and often to change the tenor of a game that could easily have seen the season ended. On Wednesday it was four goals in four shots as the Rangers turned an 0-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Tonight it was a retaliation penalty and five seconds of power play time that finally got the Rangers, and more importantly Mika Zibanejad going.
Zibanejad finished the night with two goals and two assists, his linemate Chris Kreider added two more including the game winner, and Adam Fox racked up three assists to lead the team with 9 points in the playoffs.
It was what we'd all been waiting for, and it took full advantage of a poor penalty by Evan Rodrigues who went back at Ryan Lindgren after a hit along the near boards in the Rangers' zone, and finished with a shot that popped up off of Louis Domingue and landed inside the net with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation.
More importantly, it was the Rangers creating chances and then converting.
Clearly Igor Shesterkin is still working through this new challenge, and he is yet to look as solid as he did in Games 1 and 2. Jacob Trouba also had a rough night, and wore more than a few boos from the Penguins crowd - a response to his hit that pushed Crosby out of the line-up in Game 5, and the Strome line continues to look out of sorts, particularly Artemi Panarin.
To win when you're not doing your best is a testament to this team, and we saw it through much of the regular season. Now they have a chance to complete the comeback on Sunday, and a chance to take this team to the second round.