Louis Domingue didn't know what to think when he saw teammate and starting goalie Casey DeSmith skate to the bench midway through the second overtime period.
Domingue stepped in and made 17 saves, and Evgeni Malkin scored on a deflection 5:58 into the third overtime, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Tuesday night.
"I saw him go to the bench and I wasn't sure why they blew the whistle," Domingue said of DeSmith, who left with what the Penguins said was a lower-body injury. "I know both of the referees that were there, Jonny Murray and Frederick L'Ecuyer, both French guys. I honestly thought they were joking with me — they were saying I had to go in. After that, I just go out and played. It's crazy, but I guess that's my life. It's hockey."
On the winning goal, Malkin was positioned in front of the net when he tipped a long shot by John Marino over Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.
"We know we can win every game if we play right, we play smart, we play hard," said Malkin who also had an assist on Bryan Rust’s tying goal late in the second period. "I think we deserved to win tonight."
Jake Guentzel scored twice and Rust and Sidney Crosby each had two assists for the Penguins. DeSmith had 48 saves before leaving.
Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist, and Adam Fox and Andrew Copp also scored for the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad had two assists. Shesterkin finished with 79 saves, second to the NHL record of 85 saves by Columbus' Joonas Korpisalo in the 2020 playoffs.
"He’s our best player and showed it again tonight," the Rangers' Ryan Strome said of Shesterkin. "I thought we played a good game — a lot of guys battled really hard. ... A lot of gutsy efforts by a lot of guys, unfortunately just came out on the wrong side of a 4-3 triple overtime great hockey game."
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in New York before shifting to Pittsburgh for two games.
Shesterkin had a nice stick save on Rust 7:38 into the second overtime. Rust also had a shot off the post with 2:36 remaining in the period.
DeSmith left the ice during a stoppage in play near the midpoint of the second overtime, appearing to favor a leg at 9:18. He was replaced by Domingue, who had 14 saves in the period as the Rangers built a 19-17 advantage on shots.
"It was a lot coming at me fast," said Domingue, who appeared in only two games during the season. "But it's something you prepare for as a backup. You got to be ready at all times."
The Rangers outshot the Penguins 12-9 in the first extra period. Guentzel had the best chance of the period, hitting a crossbar behind Shesterkin with 2:42 remaining.
Shesterkin made a sensational save on a shot by Kasperi Kapanen, snatching the puck out of the air while going down and doing a split with 5:08 left in the third, keeping it tied 3. It drew chants of "I-gor! I-gor!" from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
The Rangers had a go-ahead goal disallowed when Filip Chytil appeared to score with 3:10 left. However, the Penguins challenged and officials ruled Kaapo Kakko interfered with DeSmith when he drove to the net and bumped into the goalie.
After getting outplayed in the first period, the Penguins came out strong in the second, outshooting the Rangers 17-3 over the first 10 minutes, and 25-8 for the period.
However, the Rangers took advantage of one of their chances as Copp got a pass from Strome and fired a slap shot from between the circles to make it 2-0 at 3:08.
Guentzel pulled the Penguins within one as he tipped Crosby’s pass in front past Shesterkin at 4:32. It was his 27th career playoff goal in his 52nd game.
Guentzel tied it with 8:13 remaining as he got another pass from Crosby and beat Shesterkin from the right side. His sixth career multi-goal game in the playoffs gave him 28 goals in 52 postseason games.
"I thought our guys competed hard, they weathered the storm early in the game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "From the second period on, we played extremely well."
Kreider put the Rangers back ahead with a short-handed goal as skated in and beat DeSmith from the right side with 2:53 remaining in the middle period.
The Rangers’ Jacob Trouba was then called for boarding, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage for 43 seconds. With seconds remaining on the first penalty, Rust tied it 3-all, tipping a shot by Malkin with 1:30 to go in the period.
The Rangers outshot the Penguins 15-10 in the first period. Fox gave New York a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 9:19 as he got a pass from Zibanead above the left circle, skated to his right and fired a shot through traffic into the top left corner for his first career playoff goal.
Malkin tied Jaromir Jagr for third place on the franchise playoff goals list with his 65th. ... Crosby now has 124 assists in the playoffs, passing Jagr for ninth place on the NHL's career list. ... Kreider got his 24th postseason goal, breaking a tie with Steve Vickers for the sixth place in franchise history.