It was the third period at Consol Energy Center and the Rangers and Penguins were tied 1-1 when Matt Cooke delivered the now infamous elbow to Ryan McDonagh that earned the Pittsburgh forward a suspension through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.
At the time, Cooke received a five-minute major that put the Rangers in position to jump in front. However, it was the Penguins who first took advantage, getting a Chris Kunitz shorthanded goal to take the lead.
The Rangers were still on the power play when Matt Niskanen's stick caught Callahan up high, sending him down to the ice and drawing blood from a cut to the bridge of his nose. Callahan briefly returned to the bench to receive treatment while his teammates set up now with the two-man advantage.
With the 5-on-3 winding down, Marian Gaborik collected a loose puck in front and wristed it past Marc-Andre Fleury to draw the Rangers even. Off the ensuing faceoff, they immediately stormed back into the Penguins zone. Mats Zuccarello was unable to connect with Erik Christensen on a play at the side of the net, but Callahan followed up from along the goal line with a shot that eluded Fleury, giving the Rangers two power-play goals in 11 seconds and a 3-2 lead that would balloon into a 5-2 victory.
"My nose was a little sore, but it feels all better once you get the lead like that," Callahan said.
The goal was Callahan's 23rd of the season, a new career high, and helped the Rangers to their third win in Pittsburgh this season, something they hadn't accomplished since 1973-74. But most importantly, it solidified their playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, putting them six points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.
"It would have been pretty easy to get down on ourselves and hang our heads after letting up that goal on the power play, but to our credit we showed a lot of character to come back," Callahan said. "All year we've been fighting in these one-goal games and dogfights in the third period, so we're used to it and just go out there and do what we have to do."
Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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