Rangers ride wave of emotion

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PITTSBURGH -- So, let's admit we know nothing about emotion or momentum or trends that we think we see in a playoff series.

Where we saw a New York Rangers team drained of emotion, fragile, beaten; they revealed themselves to be proud, defiant, finding a hitherto unknown wellspring of will in beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 in Game 5 to keep their playoff hopes alive for at least one more game.

Maybe it was the emotionally charged locker room as the Rangers rallied around a grief-stricken Martin St. Louis who chose to return to Pittsburgh from Montreal to play in Game 5 after his mother passed away suddenly Thursday.

There is no denying that his decision to return to his teammates, many of whom he has known only a matter of months since coming to the Rangers from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, resonated throughout the locker room.

"We are a team and we're a close team. In the short time he's been here, he's pretty magnetic. He's got a love for this game and being around the rink and the guys already that we all appreciate and know, and the respect that we have for him. It was tough for all of us. But that's something that was impressive watching him tonight," Brian Boyle said.

"He's a special, special person."

And while the presence of St. Louis in the lineup -- he said this was the place that made him feel most comfortable, a kind of sanctuary if you will -- was an inspiring element, there was more to this remarkable transformation by a Rangers team that looked like it was finished just two nights ago.

How else to explain the Rangers suddenly finding the back of the net on not one but two power-play opportunities? The first, a nice effort by Chris Kreider in just his second game back from injury, ended an 0-for-36 stretch of power-play futility that had become an albatross around the team's collective neck.

The Kreider goal was one of two the Rangers scored in the first period, an effort reminiscent of their Game 1 overtime win.

But in the interim, they had lost three games in a row, including an ugly effort in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden two nights earlier in which they managed just 15 shots on goal.

"The other night we watched. When you watch, sometimes you look like you're lazy and you look like you're not in it and no emotion," center Brad Richards said.

"Obviously we rallied a little bit, it goes without saying, with what Marty comes back today. We didn't know what was going on. He comes back, shows up, smile on his face, getting everybody excited. Win one for his mom type of mentality and we rallied around that and got our feet moving. We talked about just something good happening to us, a power play goal, it just gets contagious for the group."

Emotion?

Oh this game had plenty of it.

Even before the game, CBC cameras caught Sidney Crosby chatting with St. Louis as the Ranger forward rode an exercise bike outside the locker room.

The two shook hands and there were no doubt words of consolation on the passing of St. Louis' mother.

Late in the game, cameras caught Derick Brassard standing next to St. Louis on the Rangers' bench, Brassard embracing St. Louis as St. Louis appeared to heave a great sigh. Relief? Sadness? Both?

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