By Dan Mount, Contributing Writer
The pregame trends were all pointing to the Rangers completing a first for their storied franchise. Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards made sure of that.
New York completed the first-ever rally from a three games to one series deficit in the franchise’s 88-year history as it beat Pittsburgh, 2-1, to win the best-of-seven series four to three. It was also the first time that New York has beaten Pittsburgh in a playoff series, as the Penguins won the previous four playoff encounters.
The Rangers will take on the winner of the Montreal-Boston series in the Eastern Conference final, which will have their own game seven tonight. New York will be on the road no matter who the winner is because the Canadiens and Bruins had more regular season points. The series is expected to start Saturday or Sunday.
Lundqvist made 35 and won his fifth consecutive game seven. Brad Richards got the game-winning power play marker 7:56 into the second period.
Brian Boyle started off the scoring after a great shift from linemates Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett just five minutes, 25 seconds into the opening period.
Jussi Jokinen tied the game at one 4:15 into the second, but the Penguins could not find the net and were stifled by the Lundqvist and their team defense.
Lundqvist stopped 102 of 105 shots that he faced in the final three games of the series. He stopped the Penguins numerous offensive flurries in the third period, including a few saves later without his goal stick. He is now an NHL-record 5-0 in game sevens. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lundqvist is the only goalie to give up a goal or fewer in those games.
Not to be outdone, Richards is now 7-0 in game sevens. He ties Hall of Famer Red Kelly with the most wins in the do-or-die games.
The Rangers frustrated NHL leading point scorer Sidney Crosby by holding him to only one goal the entire series. (It came in game three.) Crosby looked visibly frustrated that he could not get his game going as he went scoreless in the first round against Columbus. Crosby is the first NHL regular season points leader to score just a single goal since Montreal great Howie Morenz had that dubious distinction in the 1930-31 season.
A week ago, many left the Blueshirts for dead as they trailed 3-1 after dropping game four, 4-2. The Rangers looked tired after playing six games in eight nights, including a pair of back-to-back games at the end of the Philadelphia series and games two and three of the Pittsburgh series. It’ll seemingly turned around in game five when the Rangers finally looked rested and were able to roll all four lines and wear down the Penguins. Now, after a thrilling seven game series the NY Rangers are ready to continue their chase of the Stanley Cup in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dan Mount is hockey writer for TJRSports.com. He is also a producer for Spadora on Sports. He can be reached on Twitter @DanMountSports.