The Rangers were in the midst of an unexpectedly successful season, but time was running short. They were falling down by a goal, and the atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden was becoming more tense. Outside of the realm of the Power Rangers, the vast majority of people would have believed that their phenomenal reign had come to an end.
But during the whole season, including in the previous two games of their first-round playoff series, the Rangers had found a way to fight back and win, which gave the team’s marketing motto “No quit in New York” a stamp of reality.
Mika Zibanejad fired a wrist shot from the point to even the score after they had fallen down by a goal for the second time in the game. This time, it was in the decisive Game 7 and there were fewer than six minutes left in regulation. Then, four minutes and forty-six seconds into overtime, Artemi Panarin capped off another comeback victory by ripping home a wrist shot on the power play to secure a 4-3 victory and send more than 18,000 spectators at the Garden into a thunderous ecstasy. “It’s ridiculous,” Zibanejad added. I don’t believe I’ve ever been in a building that was more boisterous than it was when Artie scored the overtime goal. I was having trouble articulating what was going through my head. The Games 7s and the audience have been topics of conversation here recently. It was completely implausible.
At the beginning of the season, that strange scenario would have seemed practically unbelievable, but in a season in which the Rangers outperformed expectations and tantalised supporters with their promise, they have made the impossible possible.
They had fallen down in the series by three games to one, but they won game number three on Sunday, marking their third consecutive comeback victory. And this comes after they battled back from a deficit in the regular season 27 times, which was the second most in the NHL.
The New York Rangers entered the new season with the objective of finding the ideal combination of young, promising skill players and seasoned, accomplished veterans like as Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider to play in front of an outstanding goaltender in Igor Shesterkin. Under the direction of Gerard Gallant, who was serving as the team’s head coach for the first time, everything came together even better than was anticipated, as the Rangers ended the regular season with 52 wins and 110 points.
After the game, Gallant expressed his confidence in Panarin, stating that he had a sense that the Russian forward, despite not standing out earlier in the game, would come through for them. Panarin did not stick out earlier in the game. As a matter of fact, he accomplished it with only nine seconds left on the power play. Panarin stole the puck from Adam Fox at the top of the right face-off circle, skated a few paces toward the goal, and then fired off a shot with his right foot. The shot beat the Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry on the short side through a screen, which prompted a wild celebration both on the ice and in the stands.
After a play that enraged Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan, his team scored the goal that tied the game with 5:45 still to go in the third period. After getting tangled up with the Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière behind the Penguins’ goal, Marcus Pettersson of the Pittsburgh Penguins lost his helmet behind the Penguins’ goal. As a result, Pettersson was required by rule to either find his helmet and put it back on or leave the ice for safety reasons. Pettersson was heading in the direction of the bench.
Petterson was replaced by Kris Letang, Pittsburgh’s finest defender, but Letang skated to the goal, in front of Jarry, and was not in a position to challenge Zibanejad’s shot. Letang was unable to contest the shot. In addition, the possibility exists that Pettersson would have assisted the Penguins in removing the puck if he had been on the ice. It should come as no surprise that Sullivan is not a supporter of the rule.
For the Penguins, who had qualified for the postseason for the sixteenth consecutive year, the defeat was particularly tough to take since it’s possible that this was the last season that their longstanding core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang all played together. Both of those players have the potential to become free agents and join with other clubs.
Crosby, who just finished his 17th season in the National Hockey League, all of which have been spent with Pittsburgh, returned to action on Sunday for the first time since he was struck in the face by Trouba’s left arm in Game 5. He had a strong performance in Game 7, earning an assist, and motivating his team merely by returning to the lineup. According to him, he was devastated by the defeat since he believed that this squad had the potential to go farther than most people anticipated.
In addition to that, he praised the Rangers for being opportunistic and making the most of the opportunities they were presented with, especially the opportunity they had when Pettersson had to leave the ice. It was almost as if he thought that the Rangers had more luck than the Penguins did.
Even when they were down in games and even when it seemed as if they might lose, the Rangers have been able to turn those bounces into wins for the most of this season. They have high hopes of carrying this quality over into the second series, which will get underway in North Carolina.