Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Kevin Hayes’ first career postseason goal was a big one, as he scored 3:14 into overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins for a commanding series lead in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
In the extra session, Martin St. Louis tracked down the puck behind the net and sent it into the slot. Carl Hagelin located the loose puck and backhanded it through the crease and under Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to Hayes, who tapped it in to seal the win.
“It was a cool experience and will be a memorable one for sure,” Hayes said of his goal. “I was just happy to be able to help the team win.”
Hayes is the first Rangers rookie to score a playoff overtime goal on the road and is also the first New York player to score his first playoff goal in overtime since Don Murdoch on April 13, 1978.
Derick Brassard scored his third goal of the postseason and Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves in another strong performance between the pipes for the Rangers, who are up 3-1 and will look to close out this best-of-seven series Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
“This has been a pretty competitive series so far,” New York head coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’ve taken every game one game at a time and that’s what we are going to do Friday.”
Patric Hornqvist supplied Pittsburgh’s lone goal and Fleury stopped 22 shots for the Penguins, who have lost their last six overtime playoff games.
“It’s disappointing,” Fleury said. “We played a solid game and we were home in front our fans. It’s a tough one to lose.”
After failing to capitalize on their home-ice advantage and register a shot until 15 minutes into Game 3, the Penguins needed just 2:22 to get on the board.
Following a dump-in from the blue line, Hornqvist veered into the slot from the left-wing boards, battled in front and deflected Ben Lovejoy’s point shot through Lundqvist’s pads for a 1-0 lead.
The Rangers finally broke through and tied the game with 2:45 left in the middle stanza. Rick Nash sent the puck on net from the left corner and Brassard solved Fleury after multiple whacks in the crease.
Both teams were getting quality chances late in the third period, as Mats Zuccarello fanned on a 2-on-1 for the Rangers and Lundqvist kicked aside Ian Cole’s heavy slapper with just over four minutes to play.
With under a minute remaining, Lundqvist came out of his net and stopped Hornqvist, but the puck trickled into the crease toward the vacated cage. Dan Girardi calmly swept the puck out of harm’s way to send the game into overtime.
Brassard has totaled 21 points (12G, 9A) in 21 overall games against Pittsburgh as a Ranger … It was the first time the Rangers have won three playoff games in one series when scoring 2 or fewer goals since the 1928 finals against the Montreal Maroons … The Penguins’ last playoff overtime victory was a 4-3 decision over the Islanders on May 11, 2013 … Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin became the fifth player in franchise history to play in 100 postseason games with the team, joining Jaromir Jagr (140), Mario Lemieux (107), Kevin Stevens (103) and Tom Barrasso (101).