Veterans take lead in Rangers victory
NEW YORK — Alain Vigneault was steadfast in his belief that the New York Rangers would not flatline emotionally.
Then Henrik Lundqvist and Martin St. Louis went out and made their coach look prescient.
That the Rangers have dragged the Eastern Conference semifinal to a Game 7 on Tuesday is in part because of the efforts of the team's stars Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. St. Louis scored New York's first goal in a 3-1 win over the Penguins , and Lundqvist was superlative in a 36-save outing.
“We played a great game,” Lundqvist said. “We set the tone right away, and when Marty scores that goal, it's such a beautiful moment. It's really emotional to watch that. I think the entire team (fed) from that moment.”
That the win came on Mother's Day, three days after St. Louis' mother, France, died after a heart attack, was not lost on anyone. The Rangers have rallied around their new teammate, who had his father, Normand, and sister, Isabelle, in the building.
“Mother's Day, my dad's here, my sister's here. It's been a tough time for my whole family,” St. Louis said. “To be able to get the lead in the first period, it was a good one.”
St. Louis' reaction after tapping Derek Stepan's rebound past Marc-Andre Fleury 3:34 in could be viewed as nothing less than an emotional release.
Almost immediately after the puck crossed the goal line, St. Louis leaped into the air, then punched the glass twice. It was a moment that could not be scripted.
“It's one of the coolest things I've been a part of in my four years,” Stepan said. “It's something I'll never forget.
“I have so much respect for Marty, and for him to get a goal like that, I couldn't be happier for him.”
The Rangers had a 1-0 lead, which grew to 2-0 after Carl Hagelin's goal three minutes later. Then it was Lundqvist's turn to do what he has done so many times for the Rangers: Keep his team ahead.
Lundqvist stood steadfast as the Penguins pressed. His lone mistake was one that wasn't much his fault. Brandon Sutter's innocent wrister pinballed off of defenseman John Moore and Kevin Klein into the net to cut New York's lead to 2-1.
That was as close as the Penguins came, despite outshooting the Rangers 36-29. Lundqvist so frustrated the Penguins that they were relegated to jabbing him with their sticks after he froze the puck, which Vigneault noted in during his postgame news conference.
The New York goaltender left the Garden with a 9-2 mark in his past 11 do-or-die games with a 1.35 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and two shutouts.
“Goaltending is huge part in winning games,” Vigneault said. “When there's mistakes, you need someone to bail you out.”
Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Sheary hoping to return to organization
- Downie, Ehrhoff lead list of likely Penguins leaving in free agency
- Scouts think Penguins could regain luster with minor tinkering
- Penguins bringing back defenseman Cole with 3-year extension
- Penguins notebook: GM Rutherford seeks balance at forward
- No team did less than Penguins at NHL Draft
- Rossi: Gonchar is what Pens need
- Penguins deflect trade inquiries, decide to stand pat during NHL Draft
- Penguins take winger Sprong in 2nd round, add 3 more forwards in NHL Draft
- NHL sets salary cap for 2015-16 league year
- Letang misses out on Masterton, Price wins Hart