For the first 15 minutes on Sunday night it looked as if the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to have their hands full with the New York Rangers.
They were being badly out shot, dramatically outplayed, and even found themselves down on the scoreboard thanks to an early goal from Mika Zibanejad.
Then everything changed in 61 seconds.
That brief stretch late in the first period where the Penguins received goals from John Marino, Kasperi Kapanen, and Sidney Crosby in just one minute of clock time would be all the offense they would need to chase Rangers starter Alexandar Georgiev from the game and pick up a huge 5-1 win in the East Division playoff race.
Crosby’s goal was an especially impressive play that saw him split the Rangers’ defense and beat Georgiev off the rush. You can see all three goals in the video above.
The Penguins really needed this win as it allows them to keep pace in a tightly contested playoff race where they fight with the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers for the four playoff spots in the East.
After Sunday’s win the Penguins find themselves two points ahead of the Flyers and tied with Boston. The only catch is Pittsburgh has played two more games than each team still trails both by points percentage.
The good news for the Penguins is they have managed to stay in it despite some early injury problems (especially on defense), some inconsistent goaltending, and the fact they have already played the toughest part of their schedule. The first half of the season was mainly full of games against Washington, Philadelphia, and the Islanders, three of the best teams in the division. The bulk of their remaining schedule is now against the three bottom teams in the division (the Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, and New Jersey Devils) including all 16 of their games against the Devils and Sabres.