Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Six

Rangers avoid elimination again, push Penguins to Game 7

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When the Pittsburgh Penguins put the New York Rangers down 3-1 the last time the two squads were at Madison Square Garden, fans were booing and the home team looked flat. The scene was flipped on Game 6 as fans applauded a bitter, impressive Rangers win that forced this series to a full seven games.

The Rangers beat the Penguins 3-1 to win Game 6 on Sunday in a game that was wild and quite violent.

As it turns out, Derek Stepan’s odd hiccup with an official in the contest’s first shift seemed to be harbinger of weird things to come:

Martin St. Louis opened the scoring by scoring a 1-0 goal on Mother’s Day just days after his mother France St. Louis passed away:

There were plenty of near-calls and thrilling moments as the Rangers clearly went all-out to send this game back to Pittsburgh for a must-win game for each team. This sequence of events for Marcel Goc and Chris Kreider probably captures that spirit the best:

Sidney Crosby’s bitterness carried over from Game 5 and it’s clear that both teams are losing their cool at times:

It’s difficult to deny that the testy stuff might be playing into the Rangers’ hands a bit. They gained a power play on that exchange and saw some lapses in judgment from both sides, yet it was telling that James Neal was the player who was tossed from the game in the late going.

Marc-Andre Fleury had some moments he might like to forget, especially with this game-winning goal from Carl Hagelin (pictured):

Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist remains absolutely brilliant in elimination games, especially at Madison Square Garden. He’s now won seven of those must-win contests at MSG, as he turned aside 36 out of the 37 shots he faced. (In fact, the goal that beat him actually came off of Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein.)

Many counted the Rangers out when they were down 3-1 in this series, yet now a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals is up for grabs. As bad as things look for the Penguins, they’ve never lost a series against the Rangers in their franchise playoff history.

Plenty will be on the line in Game 7 on Tuesday. Will the Rangers ride this momentum or will the Penguins dig deep and make another trip to the conference finals?

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.