PITTSBURGH — First Henrik Lundqvist lost his cool. Then the Penguins caught fire.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Patric Hornqvist scored in a span of 1:39 near the end of the second period to chase the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie and dispatch the Blueshirts, 4-1, on Thursday night.
Tempers were rising throughout the game, and at 6:17 of the second period at CONSOL Energy Center, Lundqvist snapped, frustrated that there was no stoppage or call and that play continued after he was knocked over by teammate Ryan McDonagh.
Lundqvist bent over in the crease, shaken up, then turned and shoved the net well off its moorings before skating to center ice and arguing with the officials.
“He got hit by Mac driving the net and his neck was spasm ing up and [trainer Jim Ramsay] thought the best thing was to keep him off and work on him in the third period,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious. But we wanted to go on the safe side.”
Vigneault thought the contact was incidental.
“I think he was trying to tell the referee that he was hurt and I don’t know if the signals didn’t cross or whatever,’’ he said, “but obviously the ref didn’t pick up on it, and he wasn’t feeling right at the time. He decided to stay in but couldn’t finish the game. When we came in from the second, he was having issues with his neck.”
“[Lundqvist] felt he had a case,” Derek Stepan said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that mad. I don’t think it had anything to do with what happened. It kind of went bang-bang-bang.”
Lundqvist, who was credited with 19 saves, was replaced by Antti Raanta and was not on the bench to start the third period.
Lundqvist was unavailable to the media afterward and the team did not provide an immediate update. His status for Friday night’s game in Washington is uncertain.
It was an uncharacteristic outburst for Lundqvist, who was penalized for delay of game. The Penguins didn’t score on the power play and then fell behind 1-0 with 3:10 left in the second period. On a rush, Mats Zuccarello looked to his left and found Chris Kreider, who played the puck from skate to stick and beat Marc-Andre Fleury under his right arm, just inside the post.
Then the roof fell in.
Late in the period, a harmless shot banked off the backboards behind the cage and slid just past the post to the right of Lundqvist, who was facing center ice, and the puck, helped by Crosby, bounced across the line at 17:47. That goal ended Lundqvist’s shutout streak against the Penguins at 97:47.
Two more goals came quickly. Malkin swooped in to make it 2-1 only 21 seconds later after a point shot bounced off Dan Girardi right to the Pittsburgh center. With the building taunting Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-reek, Hen-reek,” Hornqvist scored a power-play goal with 34 seconds remaining in the period.
Phil Kessel added an empty-net goal with 2:04 left in regulation.
“We’re not every happy how we finished the second,’’ Girardi said. “That definitely wasn’t our best tonight.”