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Shorthanded goal the turning point in Penguins' win

Kuhnhackl, Lovejoy combine for key play in Game 1 victory against Rangers

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Kuhnhackl's goal on rush

NYR@PIT, Gm1: Kuhnhackl scores on shorthanded rush

R1, Gm1: Tom Kuhnhackl receives a pass from Nick Bonino on a 2-on-1 and rips his shot past Antti Raanta, restoring the Penguins' lead to two

  • 01:01 •

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman who made arguably the biggest play of the game Wednesday at Consol Energy Center insists that he doesn't even remember doing it.

Someone should to show Ben Lovejoy the video highlight of his defensive play at 5:19 of the third period, because it was arguably the turning point in a 5-2 win for the Penguins against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series.

"On those penalty kills, when you're in front of the net it's a jungle," Lovejoy said. "You're doing anything you can to get a stick, a foot, a face on the puck at this time of the year."

Lovejoy got his stick on the puck. It not only averted a crisis in Pittsburgh, it led to a shorthanded goal for the Penguins that turned into the game-winning goal.

The Rangers were trying to draw even at 2-2 with Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin in the box for a high-sticking double minor. New York center Derek Stepan scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal two minutes earlier to make it 2-1, and the Rangers had momentum on their side.

Rangers forward J.T. Miller put a slap shot on goal that was turned away by Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff. The rebound came out to defenseman Dan Boyle low in the left circle. Zatkoff, still getting up from making the save on Miller, was nowhere near in position, giving Boyle what appeared to be an open net to shoot at.

He never got off the shot. Lovejoy poked the puck away and seconds later, the Rangers turned the puck over in the offensive zone. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang got it, and moved it quickly up to center Nick Bonino to create a shorthanded 2-on-1 that forward Tom Kuhnhackl finished.

"We fight to make it a one-goal game, but when you get it within one you never want to give up a shorthanded right away," Rangers forward Eric Staal said. "It's one of those plays that can easily be a tie game and then all of a sudden they get a break."

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault called the shorthanded goal the turning point in the game and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said it was huge for momentum, but neither mentioned the play by Lovejoy that allowed the Penguins to keep the lead so seconds later they could build on it.

The only record of it will be the video highlight, because it can't be found in the box score, the official play-by-play sheet, or, apparently, Lovejoy's memory.

"I don't remember it," Lovejoy said.

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