PITTSBURGH ( Associated Press) — Denton Henin’s first playoff goal in three years just before the midpoint of the third period broke a tie to help the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a 7-4 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Leading in his first-round Eastern Conference series.
Pittsburgh took a three-goal lead in the first period, but was overtaken by a game by third-string goalkeepers Louis Domingue and Henen, who jumped onto a loose puck near the New York goal line, and Alexander Georgiev by 11:02. Flicked a shot in the third. Put the penguin in front to stay.
Game 4 is in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Ivan Rodrigues had two goals and provided another assist for the Penguins, who won despite none of the top line members of Sidney Crosby, Jake Gentzel and Brian Rust, until Gentzel’s blank-netter with 2:14. A number with not recorded, to seal it. Jeff Carter also scored twice for the Penguins while Brock McGuin began the scoring on a wild night with his first goal of the playoffs.
Domingue made 32 saves and even recorded an assist in his second playoff. The 30-year-old Travelman made a flurry of stops at the start of the third period to set the stage for Heenan’s heroism on the penalty kill with the Penguin.
Capo Kako, Frank Watrano, Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp scored for Rangers. Georgiev made 19 saves on 20 shots after taking over for Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin, who was chased down after scoring four goals in the first period.
The Penguins sent Shesterkin to the bench with a dazzling first period, in which he scored four goals – two by Rodrigues – only to end it immediately with a second-period slump to be ended by a turnover by defender Chris Letung who went straight to the cop. K Short- handed the tally which tied it at 4.
Penguin earned a split in New York to start the series by relying on the top line of Crosby, Gwentzel and Rust to do most of the heavy lifting. The trio scored five of Pittsburgh’s six goals at Madison Square Garden, the second provided by Evgeny Malkin’s game-winner in triple overtime in the opener.
Still, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan insists he likes the opportunities created by the role players play on his star-filled roster. Opportunities eventually turned into goals in the first period, with Rodrigues regaining the touch that had come so easily during his first half of the season, when his production helped keep Pittsburgh afloat as it was hit by injuries. One dealt with rash and one COVID-19 outbreak. ,
The teams traded goals in the opening 5 minutes before the Penguins threw the body to Shesterkin and the puck over the net with equal abandon. Carter’s deflection from the front of Rodrigues’ shot gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. Rodrigues made it 3-1 when he followed his own slap shot as it hit the end boards, pouncing on a rebound to defeat Shesterkin. He pushed it to 4-1 when a Brian Boyle check scored a turnover that left Rodrigues alone in the slot.
The first capacity playoff crowd in three years at the PPG Paints Arena was in full embrace as he applauded Shesterkin—who had an NHL record in the first two games of 118 combined—with chants of “IIIIIIIGOOORRR”.
Shesterkin remained on the bench to start the second period – only the third time he has played only 20 minutes – and Rangers pushed extensively to rally in front of Georgiev.
Vetrano’s 6:51 second-place finish in the playoff pulled New York within two in the second. Panarin’s second just 67 seconds later made it a goalless game and Coop provided a tying score that seemed inevitable after Kevin Rooney snatched Letang and went over the net. Domingue made an early save but Coop was knocked into a loose puck as the net was removed for Rangers to draw as well.
Notes: The Penguins played without de Brien Dumoulin (lower body injury) for the second straight game. Forward Ricard Rackel also missed his second straight game after leaving Game 1 with a head injury. … Pittsburgh g Tristan Jerry skated on a Saturday morning, his first snow job since suffering a foot injury in mid-April. … Rangers played without the injured F Tyler Motte (upper body), F Barkley Goodrow (lower body) and D Ryan Lindgren (lower body).
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