Rangers ride wave of emotion

There were other moments. John Moore and Jussi Jokinen giving solid whacks at each other with their sticks in front of the Rangers' net late in the third period. Matt Niskanen launching himself at Kevin Klein's head at the end of the second period.

But in the end, this emotional stew produced a much different outcome than we imagined.

And there's the rub: You just never know?

If you're the Rangers, you never know if the emotion and the desire to be better will be enough. You never know if it will be enough to translate into good things, like a couple of power-play goals or a key penalty kill as was the case when the Rangers shut down the talented Penguins during 1:23 of 5-on-3 action late in the second period.

"You never know but you've got to give yourself a chance. The other night we didn't give ourselves a chance. That's the way it goes," Richards said.

But if the Rangers' revival could at least be chalked up to the supercharged emotion of wanting to win for St. Louis and wanting not to be embarrassed, if this indeed was going to be their last hurrah, it was still somewhat shocking to see given how poorly they'd played in losing three straight games in this series.

"We know we can do that. It's nice after three straight losses not playing our best to be reminded of that. To show that we're not tired, we're not. Whatever excuse you want, throw them out the window. We can band together and play better and we did," Boyle said.

Only a little less shocking, then, was the curiously passive start to the game from the Penguins' perspective.

Someone asked Crosby about the mindset of playing in a game where you know you don't have to win against an opponent that has to win to keep playing.

Crosby insisted that they don't approach games in those terms. And yet it was hard not to watch the Penguins as they were out-hustled throughout the first period, outshot 17-9 and outscored 2-0 and wonder if that dynamic wasn't at play.

Oh, there were moments in the second period when the Penguins looked ready to roll back to life. They pulled to within a goal just 3:23 into the second period when Evgeni Malkin, in full beast mode, crashed into and around the Rangers' top two defenders Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, and then collected his own rebound and whipped it past Henrik Lundqvist from a bad angle.

Not long after, Malkin, playing almost exclusively with Crosby and Chris Kunitz, nearly tied the game on a dazzling passing play. But the puck stayed out and Brassard restored the two-goal lead when he was able to coral his own rebound and snap the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury after a bad line change by the Penguins.

Less than a minute later, McDonagh scored the team's second power-play goal after the Penguins were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty to make it 4-1.

Crosby didn't sugarcoat his assessment of the Penguins' response, saying they weren't nearly desperate enough.

"I don't think there's much good to take from it to be honest with you," said Crosby.

"Whatever mindset we were tonight, it wasn't enough."

Some might call it a lack of killer instinct although maybe it's human nature to take a breather and given the way the Rangers had played the previous three games there was little to suggest Friday's outcome.

Certainly it will be interesting to see what kind of emotion the Penguins bring to Game 6 Sunday night in New York.

Logic suggests that the Rangers will be buoyed by this critical win and use home ice to their advantage on Mother's Day in the hopes of forcing a seventh and deciding game in Pittsburgh. But as we know, logic and expectation have no place in a playoff series.

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