PITTSBURGH - The Rangers worked their way back into their series with the Penguins, but Game 7 is a time to really grind. So it's no surprise that the Rangers' fourth-line grinders were front and center in the clinching game of the second-round series Tuesday night.
Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett teamed up to produce the crucial opening goal, just 5:25 in, that sent the Rangers on their way to a 2-1 win and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals.
"From the start, Dom and Dorse, we were jumping," Boyle said. "We got into the flow early, we got some shifts. It was a fun game to play in, that's for sure . . . It's pretty easy to get excited for this. Harder to try to remember it's a hockey game and not get too excited."
Boyle, in particular, was big down the stretch of Game 7, coming out on spot duty to take defensive-zone draws and playing 15:15, a fair bit more playing time than a usual fourth-liner would get in such a big game.
But that is the ethos of Alain Vigneault's team: Roll four lines, play all six defensemen and keep things short and energetic. Boyle and Moore have been fixtures in the lineup; Dorsett spotted in and out, but that basic trio has been together for a while.
"It doesn't matter who's in there on that line, we've been able to keep it pretty simple," Dorsett said.
Boyle also led all Rangers with four shot blocks of the 16 the team had Tuesday night. Another surprisingly high number, given the shot-blocking capabilities of the Rangers defensemen. But this was a game that highlighted Boyle's defensive-zone skills, especially after the Rangers grabbed the 2-1 lead.
"They've got offensive guys who have been coming at us all series," Boyle said. "It was really the same -- get in front of them and get in lanes. We did a great job collapsing and then trying to get up and go in the rush. Trying to play the game that came to us. We wanted to be a little bit more aggressive, but you've got to be smart."
Moore and occasional fourth-liner Daniel Carcillo had big goals in the first-round series win over the Flyers. Tuesday night was Boyle's turn. With another difficult series looming, Vigneault's constant refrain of needing all four lines will require another big effort from one of the grinders.