- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
NEW YORK — Goalie Louis Domingue was the hero of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Game 1 win, stopping all 17 shots he faced after entering the game during the second overtime. But in Thursday night’s Game 2, there were no storybook endings — just a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, to even their Eastern Conference opening round series at 1-1.
Domingue gave up five goals on 40 shots. It was his first career playoff start, necessitated by injuries to regular-season starting goalie Tristan Jarry (broken foot) and Casey DeSmith, the team’s Game 1 starter whom Domingue replaced in double-overtime after DeSmith left with a lower-body injury.
Penguins players and coach Mike Sullivan were quick to back Domingue, a 30-year-old NHL journeyman, after the game.
“I thought Louis was solid. I thought he made some big saves. He’s giving us a chance. He’s competing in there,” said Sullivan.
Domingue gave up the game’s first goal at 6:50 of the first period to Rangers forward Andrew Copp, on a one-timer from the slot. He surrendered deflection goals by Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider in the second period. The Rangers’ fourth goal was Domingue’s most frustrating of the night, as Artemi Panarin deflected a shot off of Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson and behind Domingue. Frank Vatrano completed the scoring with a shot from the wing that beat Domingue after Vatrano fought through a Matheson check.
“That fourth one was a bad bounce, a couple of tips there,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “I thought he was solid. I thought he made some big saves, especially when there was a one- or two-goal difference, that kept us in it.”
Defenseman Marcus Pettersson called Domingue’s effort “awesome” after the game.
“Especially in that second period. He kept it close for us,” said Pettersson, as the Rangers put up 17 shots in the middle frame.
The Penguins face the Rangers on Saturday night back in Pittsburgh. There’s a chance Domingue could be their starting goalie again. DeSmith is day-to-day with his lower-body injury. Jarry has yet to resume skating. Pittsburgh was also missing defenseman Brian Dumoulin in Game 2, whom Sullivan said is out with a lower-body injury.
“We can take a lot of positives [from Game 2]. At 5-on-5 tonight, for the most part, I thought we were pretty good. The one area where we need to get better is on special teams, on both sides,” said Sullivan, as the Rangers were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Penguins were 0-for-2.
Crosby said one key for Game 3 will be getting a better start. For the second straight game, the Rangers scored the game’s first goal before the 10-minute mark of the first period.
“It’s the playoffs. There are going to be swings of momentum. But I thought that in both games, as they’ve gone on, we’ve probably gotten better. We just have to find a way to come out of the gates a little bit better,” he said.
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