PITTSBURGH - On the night that Chris Drury finally returned after missing 31 games with a broken finger and Ryan Callahan was lost with a broken left hand from blocking a shot early in the first period, the Rangers staged an improbable four-goal rally in the third period to beat the Penguins, 4-1.
Playing without their gritty alternate captain, the Blueshirts scored twice in a 15-second span in the third to erase a 1-0 lead and capped the comeback when Artem Anisimov skated through four defenders and fired the puck over Brent Johnson's left shoulder at 14:55 and Brian Boyle beat Johnson at 16:29.
Erik Christensen tied the game with a top-shelf wrister from the left circle on the Rangers' third power play of the night at 10:10 and Alex Frolov put them ahead 15 seconds later by backhanding a shot past Johnson. It was Frolov's first goal in 12 games.
The victory lifted the Rangers, who looked anything but sharp in the first 40 minutes, to 12-5 on the road.
Long-term, however, Callahan's injury will be telling. Callahan, the team's de facto heart-and-soul captain while Drury was recovering, and the second leading scorer with 23 points in 31 games, never returned after playing after being hit by Kris Letang's shot.
The right wing, who leads all NHL forwards with 40 blocked shots and was second in the league in hits, scored the final two goals in the 7-0 rout of the Capitals on Sunday.
Drury replaced Callahan on a line with Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky. It is likely that Drury will remain in the top nine and the Rangers will summon another forward from Hartford.
With Derek Boogaard out with a sprained shoulder, the Blueshirts have one healthy spare, Todd White. Callahan likely will miss a month or more, and the Rangers might call up Evgeny Grachev or Dale Weise, but probably not diminutive Mats Zuccarello, if they need someone on the fourth line. The depleted Rangers host Phoenix Thursday.
Last night, with only 11 forwards, the Blueshirts never seemed to generate enough offense to threaten the Penguins in the first period. Through two periods, Boyle led the team with four shots and five hits.
Marian Gaborik's best chance came on a backhander in front in the third period but Brooks Orpik got his stick in the way. Johnson's best save through the first two periods came at 1:09, when he stoned Boyle in front by extending his right leg on a 2-on-1 with Brandon Prust. It came on the Rangers second shot of the game.
The Penguins outshot the Rangers 15-6, won 12 of 16 faceoffs and finally took a 1-0 lead with just 12.4 seconds left in the period. Sidney Crosby faked a slap shot down the middle on the rush, and Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were drawn to him, and froze. Instead, he slipped the puck to his left and Evgeny Malkin swept to the crease alone from the left side.
Malkin, who scored twice against the Flyers on Tuesday after missing four games with a knee injury, braked and went back to his forehand to tuck the puck past Henrik Lundqvist. The assist extended Crosby's point streak to 20 games; he leads the league with 54 points.