Soon after landing in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Martin St. Louis learned that his mother had unexpectedly died from a heart attack. St. Louis flew back to New York to meet up with his family, and then flew to Montreal to be with his father. He then flew back to Pittsburgh on Friday and played in New York's series-extending 5-1 win over the Penguins in Game 5.
St. Louis said he spoke with his father and decided he was going to go back and play the game. Although some of his teammates told reporters it showed his dedication to the team—which was probably a consideration— in listening to St. Louis, it sounds like it was more of a coping mechanism than anything else.
"It's always been like that for me. Once you get on the ice, I'm not going to say I forgot my whole situation — she was with me the whole way — but this is probably the most comfortable place that you can be as a hockey player," St. Louis said.
What could have been a game where a desperate team beat an overconfident one—and that very well could be the case—morphed into something else. No one said anything like "we wanted to win this one for Marty" (and what kind of consolation would that be, anyway?), but everyone, even the opposition, had some kind of response to St. Louis coming back.
Those around him did their best to keep his spirits high. There was a brief talk, in which he was thanked for his return, before team meetings just hours before puck drop. During the third period, Brassard gave him a jubilant hug on the bench, tussling his helmet in appreciation. Even Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby made a special stop near the Rangers' dressing room to pay his condolences to the well-respected veteran before the game began.
It is virtually impossible for anyone but the players to say what impact it had on the actual game, but the Rangers decisively won an elimination game on the road. They'll look to do it again tomorrow—Mother's Day—and force Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
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