Determined Rangers too much for undermanned Penguins
NEW YORK -- Perhaps the most important three words that New York Rangers coach Alain Vignette uttered in the wake of his team's Game 5 series-clinching 2-1 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night:
"See you Monday."
With the breakneck speed of action and the unrelenting physical demands of playoff hockey, two days off must seem like an eternity to the Rangers.
They earned it.
The Rangers might not be the most dominant of Presidents' Trophy winners -- each of the five games in this series was the difference of one goal -- but they were a focused, committed bunch in punching their ticket to the second round, where they will meet the winner of the Caps-Isles series.
They used their speed, they contained the Penguins' top players and they rarely deviated from the game plan.
It was not always exciting hockey, but it was effective. And Friday's win delivered enough of the drama to make up for whatever was lacking in the first half of the series.
"To experience a win in overtime in the playoffs, it's hard to find something better to experience," said goaltender Henri k Lutenist, who finished the game with 37 saves. "The adrenaline and pressure you play under, the satisfaction when you see the puck go in -- it's just amazing."
The Rangers opened Game 5 with a strong first period, punctuated by a power-play goal on their first man-up opportunity. Even when they lost forward Mats Uccello to injury in the period -- he was struck in the head by a shot and forced from the game -- they put pressure on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Floury and drove possession.
Floury, by the way, was fantastic, holding the Penguins in the game before the Pens tied it up on Nick Spaling's deflection and for the remainder as well. He deserved a better fate. He was, irrefutably, the best Penguin on the ice Friday night, probably the team's top performer in the entire series.