Rangers show resiliency in Game 1 victory
Playing their fourth game in six nights — with plenty more hockey to come — the Rangers didn't let fatigue get the best of them.
After stumbling through the second period, coughing up a two-goal lead, the Rangers never fell to the ground.
Resiliency was the word of the night coming out of the Rangers' locker room following their 3-2 overtime win Friday at Consol Energy Center, which gave them a 1-0 lead in their Stanley Cup second-round series.
“It was a great feeling,” said forward Derick Brassard, who scored the game-winner 3:06 into the first overtime period. “We battled hard. We had a tough second period. The energy was kind of low, but we played a really good third period. I think we came back strong. It's a big win for us.”
So was Wednesday's first-round Game 7 victory over the Flyers, the Rangers' second game in as many nights.
Much was made of the brutal schedule in this series: back-to-back games plus travel back to New York between Games 2 and 3 Sunday and Monday.
By next Wednesday, the Rangers will have played six games in nine nights.
“It's huge, coming here after winning a big Game 7 two days ago,” Brassard said. “Coming into this building and finding a way to get the job done shows a lot.”
The Rangers built a 2-0 lead after a strong first period on goals from forwards Benoit Pouliot and Brad Richards, each their third of the postseason.
For Pouliot, it continued a strong first series alongside Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, a line that combined for 14 points in the Philadelphia series.
Pouliot nearly won it a few seconds prior to Brassard's goal. Several Rangers, including their coach, actually thought he did.
“Since Christmas, they've probably been our most consistent line,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “They've got real good chemistry. They read off one another and support one another well. Again, (Friday), they were good with the puck. They scored two in overtime.”
The Rangers, who beat the Penguins in Game 1 for the first time in five playoff series, took a breather in the third.
They were outshot 15-4 and allowed the Penguins to tie the score on goals from forwards Lee Stempniak and James Neal.
“Big, big win,” forward Brad Richards said. “Just shows that we can shrug off a bad period like we did.
“We played a real good first period, but we gave up the lead. Came in, regrouped and didn't think about anything else about a chance to get a win in Game 1. That's what we did.”