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Rangers stun Penguins again, forge first Game 7 of second round

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The Stanley Cup playoffs were filled with Game 7's in the first round. But that could still pale to the second, as there may be four second round Game 7's for the first time in Stanley Cup playoff history. One Game 7 was already forged on May 11, from the series that looked like the most lopsided of the bunch -- yet the New York Rangers dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins again for a 3-1 win in Game 6.

The Penguins were up by 3-1 in the series just days ago, after overwhelming the Rangers on three straight nights. It looked like a given that Pittsburgh would move on and New York would quietly fade away, as quietly as its offense had in its three losses. Yet after exploding for five goals in Game 5 at Pittsburgh on May 9, the Rangers didn't fall back asleep in New York for Game 6.

Martin St. Louis mourned the loss of his mother on May 8, yet came back on the ice a day later. Playing again on Mother's Day, St. Louis scored the first goal of the night and gave the Rangers an immediate emotional lift. The Penguins couldn't match it, as Carl Hagelin pushed the lead to 2-0 under three minutes later.

A fluke goal put the Penguins back within 2-1, but Derick Brassard got it back up to 3-1 in the second period. Nothing Pittsburgh did worked from then on in, as Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots and the score stayed as it was.

The Stanley Cup playoffs offer a maximum of 28 games and four Game 7's. In that regard, the Rangers are literally halfway through, with a second seventh game on the horizon. But this one will be held at Pittsburgh instead of New York, although the Rangers already have two road wins there.

The Rangers traded wins and losses throughout their first round battle with the Philadelphia Flyers, before it was their turn to win Game 7 in Madison Square Garden. This time, there have been actual winning streaks and wilder swings of momentum in round two, with the Penguins suddenly needing a big swing in their favor in a hurry.

A sure fire Eastern Conference finals berth could now become Pittsburgh's biggest collapse yet in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The last chance to stave it off is in the grand finale on May 13.

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