PITTSBURGH – Chris Kreider broke a tie with 1:28 remaining in the third period, and the New York Rangers rallied to avoid elimination with a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.
Game 7 of the best-of-7 series is at New York on Sunday.
Kreider’s second goal of the game made it 4-3. His shot from the left point hit Louis Domingue before bouncing over the Penguins goalie and into the net.
“We’ve been able to come together as a team through hard times over the course of the year,” Kreider said. “I think it’s been a long time coming for us. Proud of the way this team competes, whether we’re down or whether we’re up.”
Andrew Copp scored an empty-net goal for the 5-3 final with 27 seconds remaining.
Video: NYR @ PIT, Gm6: Kreider fired the go-ahead goal
Mika Zibanejad had two goals and two assists, and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for the Rangers, the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division.
[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Penguins series coverage]
Evgeni Malkin scored a tying goal late in the second period, and Domingue made 33 saves for the Penguins, the No. 3 seed in the Metropolitan. They played without center Sidney Crosbywho sustained an upper-body injury in Game 5.
“Nobody said it was going to be easy,” Pittsburgh defender said Kris Letang said. “They’re a really good team. They have a lot of skilled players that can score goals. It’s a race to four and we have to regroup, stay positive and get the job done.”
After the Rangers fell behind 2-0 for a second straight game, Zibanejad scored twice in 1:16 to tie it 2-2. He cut it to 2-1 at 5:05 of the second period on a one-timer five seconds into a power play before scoring on a second one-timer at 6:21.
The goals were Zibanejad’s first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Anytime you win, it’s a good feeling,” Zibanejad said. “Again, no quit. That’s what I love about this team.”
The Penguins did not attempt a shot during a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:07 after Kevin Rooney was called for tripping at 8:54.
Video: NYR @ PIT, Gm6: Zibanejad nets a quick one to tie it
Kreider gave New York a 3-2 lead at 13:48, scoring a power-play goal on a wrist shot after Domingue failed to glove a shot from Zibanejad. Shesterkin left his crease to collect a clear from Pittsburgh forward Teddy Blueger along the wall before bouncing a stretch pass through the neutral zone to send Zibanejad in on Domingue.
“Showed some character in our group,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Being down 2-0, it wasn’t looking too good in the first.”
Malkin tied it 3-3 at 16:36 with a wrist shot to the glove side on a breakaway.
“I didn’t see our team getting rattled. The demeanor on the bench is fine,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “The conversation on the bench amongst the players is fine. I didn’t see that at all. You have to give their team credit. They have a really good team over there too.
“They can score goals. I think, for the most part, we’ve done a good job of limiting the amount of quality looks that they’re getting, but they’re going to get some.”
Jeff Carter put the Penguins ahead 1-0 at 14:12 of the first period. He scored on a backhand off the rebound of a backhand from Kasperi Kapanen.
Bryan Rust made it 2-0 at 15:48, dropping to one knee for a one-timer from a sharp angle off a cross-ice pass from Jake Guentzel.
“I think the issue has more been the second period, where we get on our heels a little bit and can’t capture our game quick enough,” Pittsburgh defenseman Mike Matheson said. “They’re going to have their pushes. They might score one or two. I think we need to do a better job of not getting rattled in those situations and just staying the course.”
NOTES: Crosby skated with skills coach Ty Hennes before the morning skate Friday. His status for Game 7 has not been disclosed. The Penguins played a playoff game without Crosby for the first time since May 3, 2017, a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the second round. Pittsburgh won that series in seven games and went on to win the Stanley Cup for a second straight season. Ib Zibanejad had three points (two goals, one assist) in the second period, tying the most points by a Rangers player in one playoff period. JT Miller was the last New York player to have three points in a period during the playoffs, with three assists in Game 2 of the 2016 first round against Pittsburgh. … Penguins forward Brian Boyle left with a lower-body injury after hitting Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. His last shift ended at 7:45 of the first. … New York forward Tyler Motte had one shot on goal and two hits in 9:32 of ice time in his first game since sustaining an upper-body injury against Pittsburgh on April 7.