Evgeni Malkin and Pittsburgh Penguins edge New York Rangers in overtime thriller as backup goaltender Louis Domingue delivers

NEW YORK — Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored 5:58 into third overtime to defeat the New York Rangers 4-3 Monday night in a crazy opener of their playoff opening series. the Stanley Cup.

It was a game that included an unprecedented performance by Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin and a superb relief effort by Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue.

Shesterkin made 79 saves for the Rangers, the second most saves ever in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. He was closing in on Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo’s record 85 saves in 2020 against the Tampa Bay Lightning when Malkin fired home a shot from the point of Penguins defenseman John Marino.

With Shesterkin making his one-end saves, the Penguins had goalie drama in Game 1.

The game took a strange turn in the second overtime. Penguins starter Casey DeSmith left the ice through the Zamboni gate at 9:07 of the second overtime session. Reports were that it was a cramping issue. He had played exceptionally well, making 48 saves in that time.

Domingue, his backup goaltender, came off the Penguins bench and began to warm up. Domingue is in his eighth season in the NHL. The 30-year-old journeyman was signed in September 2021 by the Penguins as a free agent and has played just two games for Pittsburgh this season – most recently in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on 24 april.

DeSmith got the Game 1 start because Penguins starter Tristan Jarry was unavailable for the first two games of their series against the Rangers, at a minimum. Jarry last played on April 14, then was sidelined with a broken foot.

Despite his freezing cold, Domingue made 14 saves in the second overtime, then three more in the third before Malkin won.

According to the Rangers, it was the longest NHL game ever played at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers dominated early in the game, taking a 1-0 lead on defenseman Adam Fox’s power play goal at 9:19 of the first period. Rangers extended that lead to 2-0 on a goal by Andrew Copp at 3:08 of the second period.

The Penguins came alive in the second period, putting New York on their toes with an effective forecheck. Sidney Crosby twice set up Jake Guentzel to score the tie. But Rangers stayed on a shorthanded goal from Chris Kreider, only to see the Penguins equalize again on that power play thanks to a precision passing game from Kris Letang to Evgeni Malkin to Bryan Rust – by the way. , all unrestricted free agents after the season.

Game 1 was not without controversy. The Rangers received just one power play in the game. The Penguins lost forward Rickard Rakell to an upper-body injury in the first period on a hit by Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren. This was originally called a major penalty, but was revised to a minor brutality penalty.

The most controversial moment came late in the third period, on an apparent goal that could have ended the game before marathon overtime.

With 3:10 to go in the third period, Rangers appeared to take a 4-3 lead thanks to a goal from center Filip Chytil. He slid the puck into an abandoned net, as Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith was taken out of his crease in a collision between Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko and Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who was trailing behind him.

The Penguins coaches watched the replay on a bench monitor and decided to challenge the goaltender’s interference. It was a gamble – if the challenge failed, not only would the Rangers have the advantage, but the Penguins would also have received a minor delay of game penalty. This theoretically could have left them shorthanded until there was just 1:10 left in the period.

Officials watched the replay and conferred. Their decision: The call on the ice was canceled and no goal was scored on the play.

The NHL Situation Room’s explanation stated that “video review determined that New York’s Kaapo Kakko interfered with Casey DeSmith’s ability to play his position in the crease before Filip Chytil’s goal. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1 which states, in part, ‘Goals shall only be disallowed if: (1) an attacking player, either by position or contact, interferes with the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in its territory or to defend its goal”

There is a provision in the goalkeeper interference rule that if an attacking player “has been pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending player in such a way that he comes into contact with the goalkeeper goal”, such contact will not be considered initiated by the attacking player as long as that player has made a “reasonable effort” to avoid the contact. As Dumoulin leaned on Kakko, officials clearly felt he hadn’t made a reasonable effort to avoid contact with DeSmith.

Game 2 of this suddenly epic series takes place Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

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