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Jokinen's OT goal gives Rangers rare win in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH - Marian Gaborik lasted just one period on his stitched-up thigh. After playing only 1:20, Michael Del Zotto received his own gash, one that sliced his chest and took 50 stitches to close, courtesy of Evgeni Malkin's skate during a tangle by the boards.

But the Rangers, sparked by a rare fight by Chris Drury and displaying an equally rare resiliency - especially in Mellon Arena, a building in which the Blueshirts hadn't won in their past 10 games - cobbled together a yeoman effort Friday night to beat the Penguins, 3-2, on Olli Jokinen's goal 1:02 into overtime.

"It's a huge two points given the situation we're in," said Jokinen, who played in his fifth game as a Ranger since being acquired from Calgary. "Now we can't have any letdown."

The Rangers' final game before the Olympic break is Sunday at home against Tampa Bay.

The emotional tipping point Friday night came at 10:35 of the second period with the Rangers leading 2-1 on Vinny Prospal's roofer over goaltender Brent Johnson at 9:44.

After Drury hammered Matt Cooke into the boards near center ice, both players went down, and although no penalty was called, Cooke got up and challenged the Rangers' captain, who dropped his gloves and exchanged blows.

Cooke continued to throw punches at Drury, who was down on the ice, and Michal Rozsival stepped in to help Drury, drawing a game misconduct. Cooke continued to shout from the box. The Rangers' bench, meanwhile, "was 10 feet tall," coach John Tortorella said.

Drury, who set up Brandon Dubinsky's goal in the second period, said, "I guess [Cooke's] gut reaction was that it was dirty. I told him it wasn't. The refs didn't call anything. We've been preaching to everyone to finish their checks. I thanked him [Rozsival]; he got right in there. I was kind of looking for the refs."

Rozsival, who assisted on Jokinen's winner, was finished for the period, but the Rangers hung in with four defensemen. "I thought [Rozsival] was outstanding with his puck movement,'' Tortorella said. "He's been banged up a little bit here and he carried a lot of weight for us tonight."

With 3:55 left in the second, Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Johnson, who was injured on a Rangers wraparound attempt a few minutes earlier, and the chippy period ended with the refs having to separate Sidney Crosby and Dubinsky.

"I loved it," Henrik Lundqvist (25 saves) said of Drury's battle. "We just need that edge, to bring that energy to the game and don't take a step back."

It was barely enough. Crosby redirected Sergei Gonchar's shot to tie the score at 2 with his second goal of the game on a power-play at 3:53 of the third.

Tortorella said he thought the Rangers, who had a tentative first period but finished with 39 shots, rallied around the scrap and their shorthanded plight.

"We knew [Gaborik] wasn't 100 percent going in. He came in after the warm-up and he wanted to play,'' he said. "Then Del Zotto's split wide open. You lose two key guys and you wonder about what's going to happen, but they pulled together. You're always looking for rallying points. I think it added responsibility to other people."

New York Sports