Rangers rally again, force Game 7 vs. penguins

PITTSBURGH — How many times can the New York Rangers dig themselves into a hole and climb back out?

At least one more, as of Friday night.

The Blueshirts came out flat in another win-or-go-home situation at PPG Paints Arena, but stormed back from a two-goal deficit for the second consecutive game. Chris Kreider capped the 5-3 win over the Penguins in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series by scoring the decisive goal with 1:28 remaining, sending the series back to Madison Square Garden for Game 7 at 7 pm Sunday.

“We show no quit,” said Mika Zibanejad, who had four points on the night, including an assist on the winning goal. “That’s what I love about this team.”

The Rangers have endured an endless cycle of ups-and-downs in this series, with their play fluctuating from one game to next — and often from one period to the next. But what they’ve lacked in consistency they’ve made up for in resiliency.

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) and center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrate a goal by Kreider against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue.

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Falling behind early

The Penguins were playing without star forward Sidney Crosby, who sat out after suffering an upper-body injury in Game 5, which ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported was a concussion. Yet, that didn’t appear to slow them down in the early going.

The Rangers spent much of the first period pinned in their own zone. Their attempts to clear the puck were futile and lacking purpose, which would often result in Pittsburgh regaining possession quickly.

Eventually, it came back to bite them.

You couldn’t blame Igor Shesterkin for the first one. The Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist stopped three consecutive shots on that sequence, but the fourth was a backhanded rebound from Jeff Carter that made it 1-0 at the 14:12 mark.

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