NEW YORK -- Veteran forward Martin St. Louis will again play with a heavy heart on Sunday, when the Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, a must-win match that falls on Mother's Day.
St. Louis lost his 63-year-old mother France St. Louis on Thursday, when she died of a heart attack. He returned to play for the Rangers in Game 5 just one day following her unexpected death.
For Sunday's game, he will have both his father, Normand, and his sister, Isabelle, in attendance. The two flew back with St. Louis from Montreal, where he spent the team's off-day on Saturday.
"This is a day that is special to me, obviously. To have my dad and my sister here, I think it helps the grieving process," the 38-year-old St. Louis said after the team's morning skate on Sunday.
The Rangers trail the series, 3-2, but pulled out an emotional, uplifting win on Friday with St. Louis playing through heartache. The Rangers hope to avoid elimination again and force a Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"We're just playing for him right now," said center Derick Brassard, who tallied twice in Friday's 5-1 win against the Penguins.
The Rangers anticipate another game wrought with emotions, but coach Alain Vigneault doesn't anticipate any sort of mental letdown from his club despite the roller-coaster of events over the last 48 hours.
"I can't see there being any letdown tonight from both teams," Vigneault said in his pre-game press briefing. "If you're Pittsburgh, you don't want to get to Game 7. And if you're us, you want to get to Game 7. I think we're going to see the most intense game so far of this series, and hopefully for us we're going to get to Game 7."
Pittsburgh, which squandered a chance to close out the series at home in CONSOL Energy Center on Friday, is well aware that the effort needs to be much better.
"Urgency, I think, is the biggest word," Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We all know Game 5 wasn't our best."