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Instant analysis: Rangers vs. Penguins, Game 5

Pittsburgh's speed, depth too much for Rangers in first round

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins became the second team to advance to the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 6-3, Game 5 win against the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center on Saturday. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-1 in the best-of-7 first-round series.

The Penguins, who lost to the Rangers in five games in the first round last season, have to wait until Sunday at the earliest to find out who they will play next, the winner of the series between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.

Washington leads that series 3-2 with Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday (noon ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

What we learned: The Penguins are fast, deep, skilled and dangerous. We saw it all series, but it was never more evident than in Game 5, when it seemed like every player on the ice was a threat to score.

What a difference a year makes for the Penguins. Seven players from the series against New York last season played for the Penguins in this one. The turnover dramatically changed the Penguins' depth and the move to replace coach Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan brought an element of speed to their play that was lacking.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm5: Hagelin puts it past Lundqvist

All five of Pittsburgh's goal scorers Saturday were not with the Penguins last season. Carl Hagelin was with the Rangers, and he scored the overtime goal that ended Pittsburgh's season. Matt Cullen was with the Nashville Predators. Phil Kessel was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust, who had two goals in Game 5, were in the American Hockey League.

What this means for the Rangers: This is their shortest stay in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since a five-game series loss to the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. New York won at least one round in each of the past four seasons. There are going to be plenty of questions the Rangers have to answer this offseason, and the biggest will have to do with the window on this core group potentially closing or being shut altogether. They have regressed since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. Hard decisions might be coming.

What this means for the Penguins: They get to wait and watch to see who they will play in the second round. The Penguins have won seven of eight playoff series against the Capitals dating to 1991, with the most recent win in 2009. Pittsburgh is 1-4 in series against Philadelphia going back to 1989.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm5: Cullen goes top shelf past Lundqvist

Key moment: Cullen's goal at 9:26 of the second period turned into the game-winner, but that's not why it was so important. It was the goal that broke the Rangers' backs. His second goal of the series gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead. Pittsburgh poured it on from there, scoring two more times before intermission to take a 6-2 lead into the third period. The Rangers clearly sagged after Cullen scored. Chris Kreider's goal in the third period allowed Cullen's goal to be the winner.

Unsung player of the game: Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley made the great pass to Rust to set up Pittsburgh's go-ahead goal at 5:21 of the second period. Daley also got to the puck first behind the goal line in the defensive zone to start the play that led to Cullen's goal. Daley finished with an assist, five shots and a plus-2 rating in 23:04 of ice time. Daley had another strong game for the Penguins. He's had a lot of them since being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 14, the same day Sullivan coached his first game with the Penguins.

What's next: The Penguins wait. The Rangers move on to the start of an offseason that should be quite interesting. New York defenseman Dan Boyle, who was scratched Saturday, said earlier in the season this was likely going to be his last. He has given no indication he has veered from that decision. Forward Eric Staal and defenseman Keith Yandle can become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Kreider and forwards J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes, who was scratched for Games 4 and 5, can become restricted free agents.

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