The Penguins sink the Rangers 4-3 in Triple Overtime to win Game 1

Welcome back to the postseason, New York Rangers. The intensity, the rhythm, the referees let both teams play. And so on.

It’s been half a decade since Rangers were in the playoffs and their first match in the hunt for the Stanley Cup was an instant reminder of why post-season hockey is so compelling and, for the losing team, heartbreaking.

Rangers were that team on Tuesday when they lost an extraordinary triple slugfest to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3, in a game that set numerous playoff records. After three goalless hockey bouts in the third period and the first two overtime, Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins deflected a shot from teammate John Marino’s point behind Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers goalkeeper, 5 minutes and 58 seconds in the third overtime to finish the longest opening game in a playoff series since 1939.

“It’s a playoff match against one of our rivals,” said Penguins right winger Bryan Rust, who scored one goal and two assists. “We knew it was going to be a good, fast and punchy game and that’s what we got.”

The match – the longest ever played in today’s Madison Square Garden, opened in 1968 – featured pretty much everything: power play goals, short-handed goals, reversed goals on review, shots hitting goal posts, a limping goalkeeper. from the ice with an apparent injury, and touched after touch after touch.

Rangers and Penguins together for 151 shots on goal. Shesterkin, who led all goalkeepers into goals against the average during the regular season, had 79 shots, his second in a playoff match.

Shesterkin fell short of the all-time record for one-game saves, set in 2020 by Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who made 85 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That match was also the first of a first-round streak. Shesterkin was the eighth goalkeeper in NHL history and the first Ranger to make over 70 saves in one game.

In retrospect, there have been many near misses that could have sent fans home long before 11:48 pm, when Malkin scored the winner of the match. The biggest chance came with just over three minutes left in regulation time, when Rangers appeared to score a go-ahead goal.

Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko ran for the goal as Pittsburgh defender Brian Dumoulin trailed behind. Dumoulin it seemed to push or bend on Kakko’s back as he crashed into Penguin goalkeeper Casey DeSmith. Kakko slipped over the net, tipping the puck at his teammate, Filip Chytil, who threw him into an unguarded net.

But the Penguins challenged the goal and, after a video review, the referee determined that Kakko had not been pushed and therefore had interfered with Smith and the goal went off the scoreboard.

“It was a three-time overtime game, so you could look back on a lot of plays,” Rangers center Ryan Strome later said. “It was a 4-3 match, but they got the only goal that mattered.”

The Rangers were younger and less experienced than the Penguins. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are the only players left from the team’s last trip post-season in 2017. Shesterkin had a fabulous season but had only played in one post-season game.

The Penguins, by contrast, have been post-season fixtures for 16 consecutive years. The triumvirate of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Malkin played nearly 500 playoff games, all with Pittsburgh, and won three Stanley Cups together.

The Rangers – the sixth youngest team in the league – came out as the hungriest team in the first period, throwing their own weight and making it to the discs faster than the Penguins, who have the fourth oldest roster.

Rangers defender Adam Fox started scoring midway through the period when he took a pass from Zibanejad and fired a wrist shot near the blue line that sailed over DeSmith’s right shoulder.

Rangers’ exuberance has gotten the better of them at times. With less than two minutes into the opening period, defender Ryan Lindgren was sent off for two minutes after shoving his shoulder into the jaw of Pittsburgh winger Rickard Rakell. Rakell’s head snapped and he fell on the ice and had to be helped. Lindgren initially received a five-minute penalty which was reduced to two minutes minors.

In the second half the Rangers resume where they left off: with just over three minutes into the period Strome skates behind the net and provides a pass to Andrew Copp, who buries a close range shot by sliding towards the net on one knee.

But just as the Rangers seemed to be getting comfortable, the Penguins found their support. Less than 90 seconds later Crosby passed the puck in front of the net, where Jake Guentzel, the team’s top scorer, tipped him over the net.

Seven minutes later, Crosby, having cut the upper part of the unguarded area again, found Guentzel. Shesterkin barely had a chance to react.

Rangers regained the lead after Patrik Nemeth was sent off for his second penalty of the match. During the Pittsburgh power play, Zibanejad took the puck face to face, made his way across the ice and found Kreider running down the left side. Kreider faked DeSmith and buried a backhand goal for a short-handed goal.

Before Nemeth could re-enter the penalty area, however, Rangers defender Jacob Trouba was also sent off. Under two men, Rangers nearly burned Nemeth’s penalty. But Malkin switched to Letang who flipped the puck over to Rust to equalize the score by three goals each.

The Penguins beat Rangers 25-8 in the second period.

Neither team scored in the third period or the first two overtime, and there were no penalties either. As the game progressed, players came slower to their benches, their passes weren’t as sharp, and they collided with each other more often.

Halfway through the second overtime, DeSmith limped off the ice and went into the locker room during a timeout. He was replaced by Louis Domingue, who had only played two games this season. He has stopped all 17 shots he has faced.

after the match Domingue said who had eaten a meal of spicy pork and broccoli between the first and second interval. “Not the best,” she said she. “I didn’t expect to go in.”

With their sweat-soaked jerseys and skates, the players looked weighted down. Guentzel said he and his teammates ate bananas and energy bars between bouts.

“I feel great,” he told Sportsnet before heading to the locker room after the game.

He and the Penguins no doubt felt this, and relief, after Malkin found the net with the winner of the match.