The Pittsburgh Penguins bemoan the mistakes after beating another lead against the New York Rangers in Game Six

The Pittsburgh Penguins missed a two-goal lead on the ice at home and, more importantly, a chance to get rid of the New York Rangers’ loss in Game Six on Friday night.

“No one said it was going to be easy, you know?” Defender Chris Letang said, after his team’s 5-3 loss that extended into Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. “It’s a race to four. We have to regroup, stay positive and get the job done.”

This was the second consecutive game that the Penguins lost their 2-0 second-half lead to Rally Rangers, losing both games. In Game Five, captain Sidney Crosby’s loss to injury left Pittsburgh stunned with the Rangers rushing in. In Game 6, without Crosby in the lineup, it was disorderly play and ineffective special teams by the Penguins that led to New York’s victory.

“I’d like us to keep the lead, you know,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “We were in a good place. The team was playing well. We give them strength, they score and then it’s a one-goal game.”

Leading 3-2 in the series, Pittsburgh was 2-0 up in the second period after Jeff Carter and Brian Rost replaced Rangers guard Igor Shesterkin in the first half, leading to loud sarcastic chants of “Igor!” A home fan.

But then came the turning point. Penguins striker Evan Rodriguez has been checked by Rangers defender Ryan Lindgren. The referees did not whistle a penalty kick, but did so with Rodriguez’s reply. It took Rangers only five seconds to turn the playing force on Mika Zipanjad’s goal.

New York scored goals in the sets of this series and did it again in Game 6 as Zibanegad scored his second goal in the match and the series only 1:16 after his first goal, and tied the match 2-2.

Sullivan said Rodriguez “simply can’t” take a penalty in that spot, especially with Rangers’ strong playing force ready to get them back into the game.

“He can’t,” Sullivan said. “He simply can’t. He has to keep his emotions in check. It’s a necessary part of winning at this time of year.”

Rangers were 2 versus 3 in strong play, including a second-half Chris Kreider goal that gave New York a 3-2 lead. Yevgeny Malkin tied the match with a breakaway goal, but Kreider’s goal with 1:28 left in the standings in the third half ended up winning the match. The penguins were zero vs. 3 in the power game.

“I think I might have made the obvious, but the special teams were key to the match,” Sullivan said. “We have to be better.”

The key to that strength is Crosby, who was disqualified from Game 6 due to a concussion, sources told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. He was injured in the fifth game after receiving a heavy blow from Rangers defender Jacob Trouba. He was excluded from Game 6, as well as striker Rijkaard Rakel, who took a blow in the first match, and defender Brian Dumoulin, who has also lost since the first match.

The Penguins lost striker Brian Boyle to injury after only two bouts in the first period of Game Six, depriving them of one of the team’s best penalty kicks. Playing through the losses was the story of the Penguins series.

The team’s goalkeeper, Tristan Jarry, missed the regular season due to injury. His assistant Casey Desmith was injured in overtime twice in the first game and was replaced by Luis Domingo, who appeared in only two games in the regular season. Domingue fought through the series and was rarely a burden to the Penguins. But he struggled to save the winner of the Kreider game, as the puck bounced off his gauntlet and headed back into the net.

The Penguins’ attention now turns to Game 7, and who might be available for that game. Crosby skated with skills coach Ty Haines on Friday, and Sullivan said the captain was “in a good place.” Gary trained with the penguins on Friday. His status is not specified in Game 7.

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