Martin St. Louis, Rangers force Game 7 vs. Penguins

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NEW YORKMartin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin scored 2:51 apart in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves and the New York Rangers avoided elimination again with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.

The matchup between the Metropolitan Division rivals will be decided in Game 7 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. The Penguins, who led the series 3-1, failed in their first attempt to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a 5-1 home loss on Friday.

Derick Brassard pushed the Rangers‘ lead to 3-1 in the second period. Brandon Sutter scored the lone goal for the Penguins, who got 26 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.

This was a far cry from New York’s disheartening 4-2 home loss in Game 4.

The Rangers are 9-2 in their past 11 games when facing elimination, dating to Game 6 of the first round in 2012 at Ottawa. New York has never won a series it trailed 3-1.

New York scored the all-important first goal, St. Louis‘ third of the playoffs that had Madison Square Garden rocking just 3:34 in. New York had just withstood an extended period of time in its own end when Pittsburgh’s crisp passing and forechecking kept the Rangers under pressure.

They got the puck up ice, and defenseman Anton Stralman ripped a hard drive from the high slot that caromed off Fleury. Derek Stepan swiped at the puck in traffic and knocked it off St. Louis‘ right leg and into the net.

The team that scored first has won all six games.

St. Louis capped off an emotional Mother’s Day with his father and sister in attendance, just three days after his mother died suddenly. His return to the team Friday night, without missing a game, provided a lift to his teammates as they kept their season alive.

St. Louis heard cheers of “Mar-ty, Mar-ty” during his first shift that grew louder after his goal.

St. Louis was the first star of the game. He patted his heart when he came out to an ovation from the crowd.

Buoyed by another early lead, the Rangers pressed for more, and got it on Hagelin’s unassisted goal at 6:25. Hagelin’s initial shot attempt from the left-wing boards was blocked by Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi. But Hagelin got to the loose puck in the center of the left circle and sent a hard backhand sailing past Fleury for his fourth of the postseason.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma then burned his lone timeout to try to calm his team that was being outshot 7-2.

Pittsburgh reversed that trend, cut its deficit in half, and trailed by only one goal at the end of the first period.

The Penguins started to gain momentum after they killed a roughing penalty against Jussi Jokinen and then received their first power play after Chris Kreider knocked down Jokinen at the edge of the crease with 8:40 left in the period.

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