PITTSBURGH – New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis spent Thursday night with his family in Montreal, grieving the loss of his mother, France, after she died suddenly.
When Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told St. Louis perhaps the veteran forward should remain at home rather than help the Rangers try to fend off elimination against the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis and his father held a lengthy heart to heart.
Hours later, St. Louis was in Pittsburgh. By the end of the night he was near tears after an impassioned team effort in a 5-1 victory that forced Game 6 in New York on Sunday — Mother’s Day.
“I’m glad we’re able to get this win and stay alive,” St. Louis said. “She was a great lady, the best human being I’ve ever known in my life. I owed it to her to do it. I know she would have wanted me to play.”
Buoyed by the return of their teammate, one who has fit in quickly after being acquired from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, the Rangers shook off a lethargic loss in Game 4 by blitzing the Penguins early.
Derick Brassard scored twice and Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein added their first goals of the postseason for New York while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots.
St. Louis had one shot in 16:19 of ice time, all of it with his mother in his thoughts.
“She was with me the whole way but this is probably the most comfortable place you can be as a hockey player,” he said.
Wild 4, Blackhawks 2
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Jason Pominville scored for the Wild in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford’s skate and Minnesota evened the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2.
Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine’s opening goal. Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon also scored.
Crawford made 27 saves, but he gave up four goals for the second straight game.
Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus scored for the Blackhawks.
The teams will return to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday night and be back in Minnesota for Game 6 on Tuesday night.