Rangers weigh in on controversial disallowed goal in Game 1 vs. Penguins: 'It’s probably a 50-50 call'

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Kaapo Kakko skating away looking distraught as Penguins win Game 1
Kaapo Kakko skating away looking distraught as Penguins win Game 1

Tuesday night’s Game 1 between the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins featured a little bit of everything. The Rangers got off to a hot start in the first, with Adam Fox scoring a goal and the Blueshirts playing a physical style of hockey that had the Garden crowd on their feet.

But after the Rangers pushed the lead to 2-0 early in the second, the Penguins fought back to tie the game, and when Chris Kreider put the home team back on top with a shorthanded goal later in the period, Pittsburgh again answered to tie things up.

The game remained tied 3-3 well into the night, and just before the clock struck midnight on the East Coast, it was Evgeni Malkin deflecting a shot past Igor Shesterkin for the game-winner in the third overtime period, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 series lead.

“Great game by two teams,” said Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant afterwards. “I thought the first 25 minutes we were really good and dominated that part of the game, and then they came back in the second and they played really well after that, too.

“So, it was one of those game and obviously three overtime periods, it’s tough to lose like that but you get back on the horse and get ready for the next game.”

The Rangers ended up on the losing end, but it was not for a lack of effort by their netminder. Shesterkin made a whopping 79 saves on the 83 shots he faced, coming up just six saves short of the all-time NHL playoff record of 85 saves set by Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo in 2020.

On the other end for Pittsburgh, Casey DeSmith stopped 48 shots before leaving with an injury, and Louis Domingue added another 17 stops.

“Yeah, he played great,” Gallant said of Shesterkin. “The season he had and then 70-some shots I think tonight … both goalies are really good, actually three goalies are really good.”

But long before the game finally came to an end, the Rangers appeared to take the lead late in the third. After a strong defensive play by Kaapo Kakko, he crashed the net on a scoring chance, appearing to get checked into DeSmith. Filip Chytil was able to capitalize and put the puck into the back of the net with 3:10 left on the clock, but after review, the goal was wiped off the board.

“To me, it was a 50-50 call, and I sort of thought it was going to go against us,” said Gallant. “So, I can’t argue with that.”

“Yeah, it’s tough, obviously. You want those calls to go your way,” said Ryan Strome. “The game happens so fast, obviously he’s not trying to run into the goalie or anything. I thought it was a call that could go either way. It is what it is. To look back on something like that now, it was a three-overtime game, so you can look back on many small plays during the game.

“Obviously, that one we would have liked to go our way, but it’s probably a 50-50 call and they got it this time.”

The Rangers will look to bounce back and even up the series in Game 2, when the puck drops at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“Before you started the series, you were looking at two teams that are pretty evenly matched in my opinion,” said Gallant, “and I thought you saw that tonight.”