In the first five games of their first-round playoff series, the Rangers power play had scored three times from 12 chances. They scored almost as many goals on Friday night alone.
Of their three chances, the Rangers scored twice, earning a 5-3 Game 6 win over the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
It’s safe to assume that without that 180-degree turn on the power play, the Blueshirts’ offseason would have arrived Friday night in Pittsburgh. But the unit, led by Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, prevailed after Rangers dug themselves down a 2-0 hole.
“Special teams were key tonight,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said.
Zibanejad cut that two-goal deficit on the power play in half at 5:05 of the start of the second period with a one-timer from the right circle, and Kreider salvaged the rebound from a Zibanejad shot later in the period. period to give Rangers the lead.
“I think it was good to see him come in,” said Kreider, who also scored the go-ahead goal in the tense game with 1:28 left in the third period. “I think we did a lot of good things on the power play. You want to at least build momentum if the puck doesn’t go in. But at the same time, you want to see the puck come in. Doing a lot of good things and not getting results is one thing. … It was good that we were able to cash out.
Compare that to the Penguins, who once again failed to convert on a 5-on-3 power play, just as they failed in Game 5, and went 0-on-3 on the power play Friday night.
“The special teams made the difference,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We have to be better on the power play. We have to be better on the penalty kill.