The series between the Penguins and the Rangers was a big one because the Rangers had knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoffs each of the previous two seasons, two seasons previously, after coming from behind down 3-1 in the series. A lot of hockey fans felt that the Rangers "owned" the Penguins and it sure seemed that way. If there was any year to put that theory to rest, this was it. Pittsburgh came riding in sky high on a big winning streak, but New York's outstanding goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, had shut us down time and time again, so scoring against him would be hard and would be essential in order for us to win.
Since Pittsburgh had the home ice advantage against every team except Washington (the team with the best record), the series started in Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center.
In Game One, the home team got lucky, as Lundqvist was injured in the eye in the first period by one of his own men and the Penguins scored seconds later. The backup goalie wasn't up to the task and the Pens pulled away with a 5-2 victory. In the second game, the Rangers came out determined not to lose two in a row and to everyone's surprise, Lundqvist was back in goal. With his inspiration, the Rangers defeated the Pens 4-2 to even the series. Now the teams went to Madison Square Garden.
In Game Three, Crosby has a nice second period goal on a power play to even the game at 1-1 going into the third and underrated center Matt Cullen scored a major goal several minutes into the third to take the lead. Kris Letang scored a meaningless goal with seconds left to give the Pens a 3-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the series. The Rangers seemed unnaturally subdued for Game Four and the Pens jumped out to a quick lead with Eric Fehr scoring a quick goal. Sidney Crosby scored his third goal of the series at seven minutes into the period and his linemate, Conor Sheary, used his speed to score a goal near the end of the period. That's really all the team needed as Evgeni Malkin scored two goals in the remaining two periods to give the Pens a rare dominating 5-0 victory over the Rangers and a 3-1 lead going home to Pittsburgh. This felt good, really good.
When teams are facing elimination, they usually fight hard and they usually win a game, sometimes two. It's not uncommon for them to tie a series. This didn't happen with the Rangers. They vowed to fight hard and one of their best players, Rick Nash, scored one minute in, but a former Ranger, Carl Hagelin, scored later in the period to tie it up. Less than a minute later, there was another New York goal, but less than another minute after that, Phil Kessel scored on a power play to tie the game at 2-2 going into the second period. And that's where the game was won. The Penguins had a dominating second period, getting goals from Bryan Rust, Matt Cullen, Conor Sheary, and Bryan Rust again, before allow a final Ranger goal in the third for a final score of 6-3 Pittsburgh and a Pittsburgh series win by a 4-1 margin, finally getting the Rangers monkey off their back and in a dominating way. Next up? Only the league's best team: the Washington Capitals.