NEW YORK — The Pittsburgh Penguins absorbed a lot of punishment from the New York Rangers during Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
They found the perfect salve for all the bumps and bruises they picked up over the course of the evening, however, rallying from a pair of deficits for a 4-3 triple-overtime victory.
Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winning goal at 5:58 of the third extra period, deflecting a John Marino shot past New York goalie Igor Shesterkin, who finished with 79 saves.
The Penguins set a team record by launching 83 shots at him.
Game 2 will be Thursday at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden before the series shifts to PPG Paints Arena for Game 3 Saturday at 7.
A game that was full of twists took perhaps its most stunning one at 9:18 of the second overtime, when Casey DeSmith, who had stopped 48 of 51 shots, skated to the Penguins’ bench and consulted with athletic trainer Chris Stewart.
DeSmith then skated off the ice and hobbled to the Penguins’ dressing room.
There was no immediate word on the nature of his issue, but it appeared to involve cramping.
He was replaced by Louis Domingue, who had one previous Stanley Cup playoff appearance on his resume.
Domingue stopped all 17 shots he faced and will receive credit for the victory.
The Rangers, feeding off the energy of a raucous crowd that was witnessing a playoff game for the first time in five years, dominated the first period, and scored the only goal then.
Adam Fox got it at 9:19, 21 seconds after Teddy Blueger was penalized for holding, when he threw a wrist shot past DeSmith from the high slot. DeSmith, who turned aside the other 14 shots he faced during those 20 minutes, appeared to be screened.
New York not only was faster than the Penguins during the early stages of play, but was far more aggressive.
The Rangers registered 19 hits before the intermission, and more than a few of them were downright seismic.
They pounded Marino as if there had been a bounty placed on him — Alexis Lafreniere and Ryan Reaves laid particularly hard hits on him — and Ryan Lindgren knocked Rickard Rakell out of the game with a high hit at 18:41.
Lindgren initially was assessed a major penalty, but it was reduced to a roughing minor after a video review by the referees presumably concluded that Rakell’s head was not the principal point of contact.
Whatever it was, it injured Rakell enough that he had to be helped off the ice by Sidney Crosby and Mike Matheson.
There was no immediate word on the nature of Rakell’s injury, but he almost certainly was being checked for a concussion.
Kasperi Kapanen, who landed a big hit on Lindgren earlier in the period, moved into Rakell’s spot on the second line.
The hit on Rakell led to one of two power plays the Penguins had during the opening period, but they failed to capitalize on either.
The Rangers’ physicality not only allowed them to control the period, but could wear down the Penguins as the series progresses.
The break between periods didn’t seem to disrupt the Rangers’ momentum, as Andrew Copp made it 2-0 at 3:08 of the second when he took a feed from Ryan Strome and hammered a shot past DeSmith from just above the left hash.
The Penguins countered quickly, however, as Jake Guentzel steered a Crosby feed past Shesterkin at 4:32. Bryan Rust got the second assist.
Guentzel scored seconds after Shesterkin had made a sensational stop on Kris Letang.
His goal completely altered the tone of the game, and Guentzel struck again at 11:47, when a sublime backhand pass by Crosby set him up behind the New York defense and he beat Shesterkin from the inner edge of the right circle.
The Pittsburgh Penguins absolutely were taking over the game at that point … until they were betrayed yet again by their power play.
Chris Kreider put a backhander past DeSmith at 17:07, after a Mika Zibanejad pass sprung him while New York was killing a holding minor to Patrik Nemeth, to restore New York’s lead.
However, New York defenseman Jacob Trouba was assessed a boarding minor at 17:49, giving the Penguins a two-man advantage for 44 seconds.
They needed 41 of those before Rust, at the left side of the crease, rapped in a feed from Evgeni Malkin to tie it, 3-3. Letang got the second assist.
New York believed it had gotten a potential game-winner at 16:50 of the third, when Filip Chytil flipped the puck into an empty net.
Trouble is, the net was empty because Kaapo Kakko, with Brian Dumoulin right behind him, had bowled over DeSmith a second or so before Chytil scored, leading to a Penguins challenge for goaltender interference that resulted in the goal being disallowed.
Guentzel nearly ended the game — and completed a hat trick — at 17:19 of overtime, when he put a shot off the crossbar behind Shesterkin.
The Penguins pressed to end the game after DeSmith departed, and Rust came within millimeters of getting a game-winner wth just over 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the second overtime, but his shot caromed off the goalframe, near the juncture of the post and the crossbar.