Danton Heinen scored the go-ahead goal to break a third period tie as the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-1 series lead with a 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round at PPG Paints Arena.
"I'm just grateful", he said. "It's a lot of fun playing these games. Not everybody gets to do it, so I think just trying to take it all in, stay in the moment, be grateful and have as much fun as I can out there."
Igor Shesterkin allowed four goals on 15 shots before being replaced at the start of the second period by Alexandar Georgiev, who made 19 saves in relief.
"Igor has been outstanding", said New York coach Gerard Gallant. "Really, you look at it, and he's played ten and a half periods in the last four days. ...I thought it was a good time to jump-start it."
Story of the match
Brock McGinn opened the scoring for Pittsburgh just 1:57 into the game when his shot from below the goal line hit the stick of New York defenseman Patrik Nemeth and deflected in off Shesterkin.
Kappo Kaako made it 1-1 as he wristed one in off a cross-ice backhand pass by Alexis Lafreniere.
Carter put the Penguins back in front as a shot from the point by Rodrigues on the power-play was stopped by Shesterkin, but the rebound hit Carter's leg and trickled in five-hole.
Rodrigues then got one for himself with a power-play goal and extended it to 4-1 from the high slot after Brian Boyle forced a turnover by Braden Schneider.
"Anytime you can help the team win, you're obviously going to be happy", he said. "It was a great start for us. We kind of let our foot off the gas there in the second, but we came back in the third. We got back to playing the way we started the game."
New York began their comeback when Frank Vatrano scored on a one-timer from the left circle. Artemi Panarin made it 4-3 with 12:02 left as he beat Domingue from the right circle over his left shoulder.
Andrew Copp tied it up after Kevin Rooney stole the puck from Kris Letang and skated in to shoot a backhand that Copp batted in on the rebound.
"It might have been the worst period we played in the series. Not might have been, it has been", Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We got away from the game that's brought us success. That's just the human element of sports."
Pittsburgh went in front for good when Domingue made a save on a one-timer from Panarin. Heinen got to a loose puck low in the right face-off circle and shot five-hole on Georgiev to make it 5-4.
Jake Guentzel and Carter added empty-net goals 67 seconds apart to seal the victory.