As Madison Square Garden shook and the crowd screamed in delirium as the New York Rangers celebrated in the corner, it was hard to fathom just a week ago things seemed all but lost for the Blue Shirts.
New York had given up a combined 14 goals after two games in Pittsburgh and their star goaltender Igor Shesterkin had been pulled not once, but twice after letting in a high volume of shots. Compare that to the scene on Sunday night, where the Rangers had fought tooth and nail to scrap dog a win in the game and in the series over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s a huge win for the team, for the organization,” Jacob Trouba said afterward. “Gutsy performance coming back again. That whole no quit New York thing is pretty true with this group.”
For the Blue Shirts that rings as true a statement as any. The Rangers have made coming back from deficits as much a part of the team’s makeup as the players themselves.
During the regular season and now in the playoffs. In fact, Sunday’s completion of the 3-1 series comeback marked the third time that the Rangers have done so in franchise history, and if the past is any indication then hockey may take center stage for quite some time at MSG.
When the Rangers accomplished the feat in 2014 — against the Penguins no less — they rode that wave all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. The following year they did it again making it to the Eastern Conference Final, where they lost to Washington.
Even during the regular season, the Rangers have fought tooth and nail for wins. They came from behind a whopping 27 times during the 82-game schedule and then added to that with come-from-behind victories in Game 5, Game 6 and now Game 7.
“We get down, I don’t think anybody gets frustrated,” Trouba said. “We know we can come back and win games, especially in the third period. I mean we’ve done it the last three nights now. We’ve done it really all year. Just the belief in the room, the positivity, the energy. Just a fun group to be a part of, fun group to play with.”
For a New York Rangers squad filled with youth, the comeback was a big one, even if head coach Gerard Gallant wasn’t trying to make it more than what it was. The Rangers coach joked that rallying from behind was something that his team had done “quite a few times this year.”
Gallant, in his first year behind the bench for the Rangers, said that nothing changed with the team’s mentality going into the third period.
“It sure fits this team, there’s no doubt about that. They find a way,” Gallant said about the Rangers’ no-quit mentality. “I’m really proud of them. I knew tonight was going to be a battle. We talked about the seventh game being at home, but we fell behind most of the game and we found a way to battle back.”
The Rangers will need to keep that attitude that has served them so well during the playoffs and in the regular season with a date with the Carolina Hurricanes on the horizon. The Hurricanes are coming off a series win over the Boston Bruins that also went seven games.
Gallant is hoping the experience will serve the team’s younger members well going forward.
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“It’s great experience,” he said. “We talked about it all the time. Before the series started I’m sure a lot of people said there’s not much experience with this group and you look at the other side and they have experience. For me it’s about guys playing the right way, they got a lot of experience during the season and it showed in that series.
“I thought the kids played pretty good hockey overall and I thought our team played pretty strong as well.”