PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers are meeting in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth time in history, with the Penguins prevailing in all four of the previous matchups. On Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh the Rangers took a step towards reversing that trend when center Derick Brassard scored the game-winning goal at 3:06 of overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory and take a 1-0 series lead.
This was the first time the Rangers ever defeated the Penguins in a Game 1 of any series.
Despite the fact that this was the Rangers' third game in four nights, they were the team to jump ahead 2-0 in the first period. The Rangers outshot the Penguins 13-8 in the process.
Just 5:04 into the contest, left winger Benoit Pouliot skated into the high slot and unleashed a hard, rising wrist shot toward the Pittsburgh net that rose over the right shoulder of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and just underneath the crossbar. It was Pouliot's third of the playoffs and gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead on just their third shot of the game.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead with just under three minutes left in the first frame when left winger Carl Hagelin beat Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta to a loose puck on the forecheck and then threw a pass to wide-open center Brad Richards in the slot. Richards had enough time to take the puck on his backhand, turn back to his forehand, deke around Fleury and deposit the puck into the net before a Penguins player even laid a hand on him.
The Penguins came out a more inspired team in the second period, scoring two goals of their own and outshooting New York 15-4. Pittsburgh halved the Rangers lead at 7:15 of the frame when right winger Lee Stempniak picked up a drop pass from forward Beau Bennett and displayed some slick stick handling down the slot before backhanding a shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to his blocker side.
The Penguins, who lead the NHL with three come-from-behind victories already in the playoffs, pulled even with the Rangers at 2 when left winger James Neal fired a laser of a wrist shot from the high slot the hit off of the chest of Lunqvist and popped high into the air. Center Evgeni Malkin was parked in front of the net and attempted to bat the puck in with a high stick, but replay would show that the puck was not touched by Malkin, but hit the backside of Lunqvist and trickled in at 13:28 of the second.
The Penguins nearly completed their comeback at 17:33 of the third when center Joe Vitale rang a wrist shot off the left post. Shortly thereafter, the Penguins were awarded a power play, but failed to convert for a fourth time in regulation. The Rangers power play was also ineffective, going 0-4 in regulation time.
NOTES: The Penguins held home-ice advantage in four of the five playoffs series against the Rangers. ... The Penguins have nine players on their roster with at least one Stanley Cup ring; the Rangers have two. ... Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury (87) and Rangers G Henrik Lunqvist (75) are first and second, respectively, in playoff games played among goaltenders remaining in the playoffs. ... Scratches for the Penguins were D Deryk Engelland, D Brooks Orpik (undisclosed), C Brian Gibbons (undisclosed), C Jayson Megna, LW Taylor Pyatt, RW Chris Conner and G Tomas Vokoun. Scratches for the Rangers were D Raphael Diaz, D Justin Falk, C Chris Kreider (hand), C J.T. Miller and RW Jesper Fast. ... The official attendance was 18,622.