While Rocky Balboa may be from Pennsylvania, Sylvester Stallone is from New York. So fans of the underdog New York Rangers can be excused if they feel like playing Gonna Fly Now this evening after their team ousted the favored Pittsburgh Penguins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The time had come for the Penguins to stop fooling around in their semi-final series with the Rangers, for in a Game 7 there is simply no further room for error.
If the Pens opted to put in less than their best effort tonight, they faced the very real possibility that the next meaningful game they play this year would be in October.
As it turned out, they didn’t. And so now Pittsburgh has five months to think about it.
Tuesday night the Rangers hugely disappointed a sellout crowd of Penguin fans in western Pennsylvania, and in doing so punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Blueshirts’ Brian Boyle opened the scoring at 5:25 of the first period. Jussi Jokinen tied it for Pittsburgh early in the second period before a Brad Richards power-play goal reclaimed the lead for New York. Ultimately, Richards’ tally held up to become the game and series-winning goal.
Though they’re surely much more concerned with their own series at the moment, it’s likely that both the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens looked in on this game to see who the winner’s next opponent will be. And now they’re aware that it will be the Rangers who await them.