The New York Rangers' season is on the line in Game 6 of their NHL Eastern Conference first-round playoff series Friday night at the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead 3-2. New York will catch one major break - and perhaps a smaller one, too - as Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby will not play after leaving Game 5 injured, while Rangers forward Tyler Motte may make his series debut off injury. New York is -120 at Caesars Sportsbook.
The future Hall-of-Famer Crosby took a high hit in the second period of Wednesday's loss from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Crosby finished his shift with 6:50 left in the period and did not return. It's probably not a total coincidence that New York went on to rally from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-3. NHL teams never say what type of injury a player has specifically, so Crosby is listed as having an upper-body injury.
Naturally, the Penguins thought the hit was dirty and the Rangers didn't. Trouba was not penalized or even called by the league for a hearing despite injuring arguably the NHL's biggest star, so that should tell you the answer.
Crosby wasn't even at this morning's skate. That puts his status for a potential Game 7 on Sunday in New York in some jeopardy as well. He is fifth in the league with nine playoff points and had multiple points in each of the first four games before leaving in Game 5. Pittsburgh was 5-4-4 without Crosby this regular season. His last game missed was April 7, a 3-0 loss at the Rangers. The Pens were outscored 39-38 in those 13 games. By comparison, the Penguins were 41-21-7 with Crosby and outscored teams 231-183.
Penguins forward Rickard Rakell, who has not played since taking a hit to the head in Game 1, skated with the team this morning but did not take part in line rush and is likely out again (officially a game-time decision). Defenseman Brian Dumoulin wasn't at practice so he will sit. He was hurt in Game 1.
The Rangers got defenseman Ryan Lindgren back from injury in Game 5, and he made an immediate impact with a goal. Motte, a midseason trade acquisition from Vancouver, appeared in nine games with the Rangers before suffering an upper-body injury April 7 on a hit by Pittsburgh's Anthony Angello and hasn't played since. Motte practiced Thursday, though, and is trending toward playing. He would help on the penalty kill.
"It'd be great [if he plays]. Obviously his speed, his penalty-killing, defensive player, he'd be a good, big help for our club, definitely," Rangers Coach Gerard Gallant said.
Teams that hold a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven own an all-time series record of 332-88.
Pittsburgh is 16-7 all-time in a series it led 3-2 and 6-0 when starting that series on the road as it did here. The Pengins are 8-7 in Game 6's at home. New York is 5-19 all-time in a series when trailing 3-2 and 3-7 when starting at home. The Rangers are 8-12 all-time in Game 6's on the road. The Rangers are 4-1 in their last five games against Pittsburgh when facing elimination.
Free NHL pick: Rangers -120
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