Still alive: Rangers control play, send series back to MSG

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Plenty of people seemed to count the New York Rangers out in their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and they certainly still have a long way to go to totally turn the tide. Still, the team showed their mettle in elimination games once again, handling the Penguins in Pittsburgh 5-1 to extend the series to Game 6.

The Penguins still have a 3-2 series lead, but they have to wonder if they’re going to face a tougher Rangers team here on out (or if that squad might run out of gas once more).

The difference between the Rangers in Game 5 vs. 4 was night-and-day. After only managing 15 shots on goal in a dispiriting Game 4 defeat, the Rangers bested that shot output in the first period alone.

The Blueshirts enjoyed a fantastic night from Derick Brassard. Brassard’s stat line was something to savor: two goals, one assist, a +2 rating, five shots on goal and even some gritty work (six hits, one trip to the penalty box).

He wasn’t the only Rangers skater to stand out, either, as Chris Kreider looked like a difference-maker (one goal, one assist, six hits) and Mats Zuccarello piled up three assists.

The under-sized Norwegian seemed to be just one of the Rangers to get under the skin of Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who seemed especially agitated at times tonight.

Mike Milbury believes that the Penguins might want to go back to spreading the wealth by separating Crosby from Malkin (who scored a beauty for Pittsburgh’s only goal).

Ryan McDonagh had a nice night on defense (one goal and one assist) while Henrik Lundqvist looked quite sharp himself in stopping 31 out of 32 shots.

(In case you’re wondering, Rick Nash didn’t score a goal but he did notch an assist.)

Marc-Andre Fleury probably allowed a goal or two that he’d like to have back, but he’s been outstanding for most (if not all) of the other games in this series. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma might want to tell most of the Penguins – Fleury included – just to put this one out of their minds.

After winning the game, the Rangers embraced Martin St. Louis, who decided to play one night after his mother’s passing.

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the Rangers the last time they faced the Penguins in Madison Square Garden. If they can bring the kind of effort that they did not, the prevailing emotion might just be more tension for Pittsburgh.

Of course, seeing a thinner lead is likely to bring a far more concerted effort from the Penguins, too. We’ll see whether this series goes to seven games depending upon how things play out in Game 7 on Sunday.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

Oshie OT goal
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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: