Whether it was just time for the Rangers to start skating or they garnered a collective emotional charge as fuel for inspired play on behalf of their newest team mate Martin St. Louis who was back in Montreal with family after losing his mother, it was a Rangers squad that bore no resemblance to the team that showed up for the previous two games. The effort was just in time as the Rangers easily avoided elimination by playing their best game of the series, scoring early and often en route to a 5-1 trouncing of the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night.
The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Chris Kreider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Kreider
and Derick Brassard less than 6 minutes apart and never looked back. Even a Penguins five on three power play for nearly a minute and a half late in the second that could have got the Pens back in the game came up empty as they failed to even register a shot on goal.
As most teams facing elimination tend to do, the Rangers brought their best effort with the season on the line and fired 17 shots in the first period alone, more than the total for the entire 4-2 Pens win in New York in game four. Another curious statistic that suggests Marc Andre Fleury could not be blamed for the loss as he actually stopped more pucks in the loss than in the Pens 4-2 win. In the game four win, he posted a save percentage of .867 as compared to a save percentage of .882 last night despite allowing five goals. http://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-Save-Percentage
Fact is, save percentage numbers in the mid to high point eight range won’t cut it and even if the Pens can survive the resurgent Rangers, there is no way they will emerge from the East when they will have to face either Rask or Price. Collectively that pair stopped 67 of 68 shots in the last game of that series for a combined .985 save percentage in a game that featured dozens of excellent scoring chances both ways.
The Habs Bruins series resumes tonight in Boston with game 5 at 7:00 eastern while the Rangers Pens series shifts back to New York for game six on Sunday which also happens to be Mothers Day. Expect another strong effort from the Rangers as they look to push the series to a one game winner take all.