Bylsma said repeatedly that the Penguins could not allow the New York Rangers "any breath, any life" in Game 5 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series. Instead, the Rangers are very much alive after a 5-1 victory Friday. They trail 3-2 and can even the series by winning Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
After a desultory effort in a Game 4 loss to Pittsburgh at home on Wednesday, the Rangers came out from the opening faceoff with the kind of desperation Bylsma had warned his team about -- and the Penguins didn't match it.
"We expected their best and their very best off the hop," Bylsma said. "They came really hard, really aggressive down the walls and we turned over a few pucks as a result, led to their offensive zone time. But, in addition to that, we had some unforced errors. We shot it over the glass with not a lot of pressure and we had an unforced icing that led to a goal and we have a bad change that leads to a power play and another goal.
"So in addition to them playing their hardest and their best, I think we had some unforced errors as well."
The Penguins started Game 5 at Consol Energy Center in the same fashion that they began Game 1, which resulted in a 3-2 overtime loss. Pittsburgh trudged through a first period in which it was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game en route to a 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes.
New York outshot the Penguins 17-9 in the first and held a 12-3 advantage at one point. The Rangers also snapped their 0-for-36 power-play skid with a goal from forward Chris Kreider at 9:36 on their first opportunity with the extra man.
"I thought they came out like a team whose season was on the brink," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "At the start, I think we played like a team that looked like we had an automatic bid to the next round. When it's 2-0 right off the bat and you're playing from behind, it's not easy. You have to take chances, you have to play your big offensive guys … you have to wear them out. It's never easy.
"We didn't make it easy on ourselves tonight."
Pittsburgh came out much stronger in the second period, and the ice seemed to tilt in the Penguins' direction early in the period thanks in large part to the effort of forward Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin got the Penguins on the board at 3:23 with a spectacular individual effort. He skated past Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and through defenseman Marc Staal before putting a shot on Henrik Lundqvist, who made the save. But Malkin outfought everyone for the rebound, made a full-circle spin and whipped the puck over Lundqvist to make it 2-1.
The Penguins played the next few minutes as if they were inspired by Malkin's effort, controlling play until Rangers forward Derick Brassard scored his second goal of the game at 7:58. New York's second power-play goal, a blast from the right point by defenseman Ryan McDonagh 50 seconds later, buried Pittsburgh in its first three-goal deficit of the series.
Pittsburgh had opportunities to get back into the game but failed to capitalize. Brassard and Girardi went off 37 seconds apart late in the second period, giving the Penguins 1:23 worth of a 5-on-3 power play. But they failed to register a shot with the two-man advantage.
"I think that's something that you can't allow to happen," center Sidney Crosby said. "I don't think there's much good to take from it. So, I think we have to be sure we come with the right mindset going to New York.
"Whatever mindset we had tonight, it wasn't enough."
Entering Game 5, Bylsma said "three wins get us nothing." The Penguins still have three wins, with one less chance to earn a fourth.
"I think you have to turn the page and you have to turn the page real quick," Bylsma said. "We're getting on a plane tomorrow, we have to go to the Garden for Game 6 and it's a tough place to play and a top building and a team that played desperate right now, played desperate in Game 5 and came up with a big victory.
"Now we're forced to go back there, and we have to play with that same desperation and we have to do it back there."