Martin St. Louis began Thursday in Pittsburgh, where he and his Rangers teammates were preparing to play a win-or-go-home Game 5 the next day after falling behind, 3-1, in their playoff series with the Penguins.
But St. Louis soon received the worst kind of news: His mother, France, had passed away unexpectedly at age 63. St. Louis rushed to Montreal to be with his family, leaving his status for Game 5 uncertain; no one, least of all his teammates, would have blamed him for missing even a playoff game so that he could grieve.
However, St. Louis returned to Pittsburgh and the Rangers on Friday, later telling reporters, “I know deep down my mother — my mom would have wanted me to play this game.” And so he did, and his presence clearly provided his teammates with a jolt of emotion, one that they carried through a dismantling of the Penguins.
Here is St. Louis after the game (video via blueshirtsunited.com):
The 5-1 win saved the Rangers’ season, at least long enough to get them back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6. The last time the team played there, it stumbled through a dreary Game 4 loss to Pittsburgh, and it appeared that the Rangers would have to wait until next year to rediscover their offense.
Friday night, however, New York scored its most goals of the playoffs, including snapping a 0-for-36 power-play streak that was tied for the longest in NHL playoff history. And with Game 6 taking place on Sunday — Mother’s Day — there should be no shortage of emotion for the Rangers.
Although St. Louis did not have a big game statistically Friday, the circumstances of it were reminiscent of a Sunday night game in September 2012 between the Ravens and Patriots. Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith learned early that morning that his younger brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Smith decided to play, and he caught two touchdowns in a 31-30 Ravens win.
And who could forget Brett Favre’s performance on Monday night in 2003? Playing just one day after his father, Irvin, died of a heart attack, Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 rout at Oakland.
Here is a retelling of that memorable event: