Depleted Penguins still beat Rangers, 4-3, in a shootout

Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins is upended Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins is upended by Carl Hagelin of the Rangers along the boards at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 18, 2013) Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

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For the second straight game, the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit and got to overtime and then a shootout. This time, the result was different.

Brandon Sutter scored the lone goal of the shootout in the fifth round to give the injury-depleted Penguins a 4-3 win Wednesday night at the Garden. Marc-Andre Fleury (29 saves) stopped all five attempts in the shootout.

The Rangers fell to 1-3-2 on their franchise-record, nine-game homestand. They host the Islanders tomorrow night, followed by Minnesota on Sunday, and then close out the homestand with Toronto on Monday.

On Sunday, the Rangers beat the Calgary Flames, 4-3, in a shootout.

In the first minute of overtime, Chris Kunitz was penalized for goaltender interference after he collided with Henrik Lundqvist, who came out of his net to make a save on Kunitz. Lundqvist stayed on the ice for a minute while trainer Jim Ramsay checked him out, and the Rangers had a power play, but couldn't convert.

Lundqvist, who made 29 saves and had stopped Sidney Crosby, Jussi Jokinen, Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis in the shootout, said afterward that from the overtime collision, his neck "was stiff. I expect it to be sore in the morning. I'm just happy it wasn't worse than that. I didn't see him coming at all. At first I wasn't sure, it was hard to focus. I needed some time to regroup."

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He called getting a point "pretty big. I just hate losing the shootout. Right now, we need two [points]. I was happy with the way we played as a group."

Mats Zuccarello, who had a goal and assist, said: "We didn't come through so it's disappointing, but we were down 3-1 there, so it's a good comeback."

The Penguins were missing four top defensemen, including Kris Letang, and elite forwards Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, but they still won their fifth straight game.

Brad Richards, who picked up his 17th assist on the Rangers' first goal, said: "You can't judge your team on shootout wins and losses. It's great when you win them, and when you lose, you've got to move past and realize the good things you did to get to that point."

With the score tied at 1, the Penguins scored twice in 1:01 of the third period to build a lead. Dupuis converted a quick backhand pass from Crosby through the slot at 5:25 and Sutter took the puck around Michael Del Zotto on a rush and his high backhander beat Lundqvist at 6:26.

But the Rangers weren't done. Zuccarello tapped in a rebound near the goal line of John Moore's shot that Fleury couldn't control at 12:43 to cut the deficit to 3-2. And then on the power play, Derick Brassard tied it at 3 with 1:46 to play.

The line of Crosby, Dupuis and Kunitz, which has impressive chemistry, did the damage in regulation.

After a scoreless first, the Penguins broke through on a power play in the second. With Ryan McDonagh in the box for tripping Crosby on a solo break-in, Lundqvist made three saves, but couldn't stop Kunitz from jamming the puck under him and inside the right post at 12:44. Crosby's 29th assist gave him points in eight consecutive games. He posted his 30th assist -- to go with 19 goals -- on the pass to Dupuis on the second goal.

The Rangers, who had fizzled on a power play at 8:57, responded on a four-on-four, after Del Zotto went off for tripping Harry Zolnierczyk, who drew a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a roughing call for interfering with Lundqvist.

At 15:35, Carl Hagelin scored his second goal in two games when he collected a pass from Moore, sped past the Pens defense, deked and backhanded the puck through Fleury to tie the score at 1.

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