How the Rangers Beat the Penguins in Game 7 in Overtime

Even with the Mets and the Yankees playing as well as they are, the Rangers are the hottest team in New York right now, which few saw coming.

Coming into the season, the Rangers hoped to find the right mixture of young, promising skill players and savvy, talented veterans like Zibanejad, Panarin and Chris Kreider in front of a terrific goalie in Igor Shesterkin. It all came together even better than expected under Gerard Gallant, the team’s first-year head coach, and the Rangers won 52 games and earned 110 points in the regular season.

The only unknown was playoff experience and the ability to win on the biggest stage. They certainly have that now to go with a generous dose of confidence.

Gallant had faith in Panarin, saying after the game that he had a feeling the Russian forward, despite not standing out earlier in the game, would come through. And he did, with only nine seconds remaining on the power play. Panarin took the puck from Adam Fox at the top of the right face-off circle, skated a few paces toward goal and then fired off his right foot, beating Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry on the short side through a screen, and unleashing a wild celebration on the ice and in the stands.

“Honestly, they’ve been letting me shoot since the first game,” Panarin said through an interpreter. “My bad, I haven’t really been making those shots. But maybe I should listen to everyone’s advice now and actually get out there and take shots.”

The tying goal came with 5:45 remaining in the third period after a play that angered Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan. Pittsburgh’s Marcus Pettersson lost his helmet behind the Penguins’ goal after getting tangled up with Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière, and by rule Pettersson had to either find his helmet and put it back on or leave the ice for safety reasons. Pettersson headed toward the bench.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh’s best defenseman, took Petterson’s place, but he skated to the net, in front of Jarry, and was not in a position to challenge Zibanejad’s shot. And if Pettersson had been on the ice, he might have helped the Penguins clear the puck. Sullivan, not surprisingly, is not a fan of the rule.

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