The Penguins have blown 3-1 series leads before, including to the New York Rangers just two years ago. That was what Rangers fans had to pin their hopes on as the teams entered Game 5 with Pittsburgh having a commanding lead in the series. And after a start to the game that brought up made memories for the Pens, there was just too much of a talent advantage for Pittsburgh, and they destroyed the Rangers en route to a 6-3 win and series victory. Bryan Rust had two goals and an assists, both Matt Cullen and Phil Kessel added a goal and an assist each, and Matt Murary made 38 saves on 41 shots to help send Pittsburgh to the second round. Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin rounded out the scoring for the Pens.
The Penguins enjoyed a quick start in Game 4, but this time it was the Rangers scoring just 1:02 into the contest. Dan Girardi slapped a bouncing puck from the blue line, and Rick Nash deflected the shot from between the hash marks that just barely slipped between Matt Murray's blocker arm and body to give New York the early 1-0 lead. It was all Rangers early controlling the play, but Pittsburgh began to turn the tide, and midway through the 1st period they were able to even the score. Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel worked a give and go behind the net, and Kessel threaded a pass through the New York crease that Hagelin was able to put behind Henrik Lundqvist.
It wouldn't last for long though as a series of bad bounces gave the Rangers the lead again. Kessel got his stick on a Rangers pass that redirected through Murray's five hole and off the far post, where it bounced back into play, went off Patrick Hornqvist's skate as he tried to stop, an fluttered over Murray's pads and into the net. Moments later, the Pens would be on the power play for the first time in the game after Brady Skjei boarded Eric Fehr in the neutral zone, and again it would be a quick goal in response when Phil Kessel fired a shot from the right circle that deflected off the butt end of Lundqvist's stick into the upper left corner of the net.
New York would get a chance to retake the lead again minutes later on a play where Evgeni Malkin was called for tripping Eric Staal, though Staal easily could have been whistled for an embellishment penalty as he went down without much resistance. The Pens had shut down the Rangers' power play through the first four games, holding New York to a 1-for-16 conversion rate, and it was no different at the start of Game 5. A Rick Nash slash against Kris Letang, and a Letang slash in retaliation, gave the teams two minutes of 4-on-4 action.
It was a period that would see the Rangers control the shot attempts by an 18-11 margin, but their reward for getting the jump on the superior possession team was just a 2-2 tie game heading into the intermission. It was a result that was certain not to hold up over the rest of the game, and even the tie wouldn't hold up when Trevor Daley made a great shot fake a little over 5 minutes into the 2nd period. Instead of taking the slap shot, Daley found Bryan Rust on the right post, and a lunging Henrik Lundqvist couldn't get over to stop Rust from burying the puck and giving the Penguins the 3-2 lead. Midway through the period, the Pens would continue to increase their hold on the game and the series. Rust forced a turnover in the New York zone, and Matt Cullen jumped on the puck and sent shot from the left hash marks past Lundqvist on the far side, increasing the Pittsburgh lead further to 4-2.
The Penguins would get their second power play of the game moments later with a chance to sink a dagger into the Rangers, but their red-hot man advantage wasn't able to capitalize on the opportunity. Conor Sheary would get called for high sticking Lundqvist, but a futile Rangers power play continued to let New York down. In a microcosm of the series as a hole, Rick Nash would ring a one timer off the post in the Pittsburgh end, and the Penguins would go down the ice, where Sidney Crosby would find Conor Sheary coming late into the zone. Sheary blew the shot high past Lundqvist glove side, and if the three goal lead wasn't enough heading into the second intermission, Bryan Rust took a Malkin pass on a 2-on-1 and beat Lundqvist in the final minute for his second goal of the game to give the Pens the 6-2 lead.
It speaks volumes that the Penguins managed to chase Lundqvist in an elimination game for the second consecutive contest, but they did just that as Antti Raanta came out in goal for the start of the 3rd period. The Rangers would get a goal from Chris Kreider after he deflected a Raphael Diaz shot on the power play 5 minutes into the period after Murray was called for a questionable tripping penalty.
The Rangers stormed out of the gate in controlling possession, but they weren't able to keep it up as Pittsburgh turned the tables building a 6-2 advantage through two periods. The Pens would then play the 3rd period to protect the four goal lead, and it netted them a score-adjusted 42.0 CF% on the game. Overall, it was the Penguins' depth that proved to be too much for the Rangers to handle. Pittsburgh now waits on the winner of the Washington/Philadelphia series to see if they'll be opening round two at home or traveling to Washington.