Henrik Lundqvist made a career-high 50 saves last night, but Jordan Staal scored on the Penguins' 55th shot with 1:18 left in overtime as Pittsburgh erased a two-goal deficit and beat the Rangers, 5-4, at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers' Wade Redden went off for hooking Evgeni Malkin at 1:45 of overtime, and right after Malkin hit the post, Lundqvist reached up to snag his rising shot. But Staal scored the winner with three seconds left on the four-on-three, improving the Penguins' record against the Rangers to 5-0-1. Malkin earned an assist on the winner.
"It's a big point for us, but having a two-goal lead, we definitely wanted two points," said Lundqvist, who made 18 saves in the third period, when the Rangers were outshot 19-1 and the Penguins tied the score.
In a physical contest, the fireworks started at 4:10 when Canadian Olympic hero Sidney Crosby - razzed by the Garden faithful all night - appeared to dive when hit by Marc Staal less than two minutes after Artem Anisimov gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
"He went up with his arms and really played it out," Lundqvist said. "I told him to stand up. He's a great player. Obviously, guys are going to be hard on him. The refs need to be sure the star players are protected. I don't think you should use it, though [his reputation]."
Brandon Dubinsky skated over to protect Lundqvist, setting the tone for the hard hitting that followed. "Wayne Gretzky has been retired for some time," Rangers forward Vinny Prospal said. "So everybody's hittable."
Marian Gaborik has missed the last three games with injuries, and in his absence, the Rangers (29-27-8) have scored 13 times. But the offense vanished in the third period.
"We needed to find a better way to hang on to pucks and get it out of the zone," Dubinsky said. "They seemed to have the momentum. Most nights when we score four goals, we should win. We've got to tighten it up in the defensive end."
With the Rangers leading 4-3 in the third, Marc Staal almost made it a two-goal advantage with 5:50 gone when his shot hit the post behind Brent Johnson. Johnson had replaced Marc-Andre Fleury, who was pulled after Dubinsky's shot clanged the iron and bounced off the goalie's back and in at 12:49 of the second. The Rangers had scored four goals on 12 shots.
"Hank was outstanding. Him and Gabby are our best players. It's too bad we weren't better defensively for him," Prospal said. "They get a big chance on the PP in overtime, but two minutes is a long time."
Lundqvist preserved the lead with a lightning-quick glove save on the 42nd shot, snaring a deflection by Malkin with 7:10 gone by, as the Pens dominated the final period. At the 9:07 mark, the Pens had 11 shots, the Rangers none.
The Penguins tied the score at 4 when Alex Goligoski whipped a bad-angle shot from the left side that caromed off Staal's skate and deflected past Lundqvist with 8:01 left.
"He shot the puck when it was rolling," Lundqvist said. "It was high and came straight down."
Just like the Rangers.