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Rick Nash scores twice as Rangers continue domination of Penguins

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) and Rick

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) and Rick Nash skate off the ice after a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Stepan and Nash each had two goals in the game. Credit: AP / Gene J. Puskar

PITTSBURGH - Rick Nash and the Rangers keep right on rolling.

Nash scored his 27th and 28th goals of the season, giving him a share of the NHL lead, and Derek Stepan added two goals of his own as the Rangers blitzed the Penguins, 5-2, on Sunday at Consol Energy Center.

The Rangers chased All-Star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury early in the second period after scoring four goals on their first 17 shots.

The Rangers (26-13-4) have won 15 of their last 18 games and are 6-0-1 against the Penguins (26-12-6) dating to Game 5 of their second-round series last spring.

"They've got so much skill, so much talent," said Nash, who is tied for the league lead in goals with the Stars' Tyler Seguin, who scored his 28th Sunday night. "Still, we can have success against them and then play a team like Tampa and not have any success.

"It's kind of funny how that works."

Nash has four goals and three assists in four games against the Penguins this season, but Sunday he had a little help from both friend and foe. His goals came courtesy of mistakes by Penguins defensemen.

"Well, I wouldn't say mistakes," Nash said, grinning. "I'd say bounces."

On the first shift of the game, a bouncing puck caromed off the boards near the Rangers' blue line, fooling defenseman Kris Letang. Nash raced down the ice alone and rifled a wrist shot past Fleury 26 seconds into the game.

With the Rangers ahead 2-1 early in the second period, Nash floated a soft shot toward the goalmouth that Syosset product Rob Scuderi, trying to defend the crease, deflected into the air, off Fleury's shoulder and into the net.

"We definitely got some bad bounces," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, "but we didn't really give ourselves a chance to get back in it."

Derick Brassard took another step toward cementing his reputation as a Penguins-killer with a goal and an assist.

Brassard, who has 16 points in the past 14 games against the Penguins, gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Defenseman Kevin Klein's shot deflected off the glass behind the Penguins' net and back out front. Brassard picked up the loose puck between the circles and, with Fleury still scrambling for position, beat him glove-side at 6:08.

Crosby scored a power-play goal late in the first period, but Nash and Stepan scored in the first six minutes of the middle frame to send Fleury to the showers.

"We just played simple," Nash said, trying to explain the Rangers' success against a goaltender with 22 wins and a 2.33 goals-against average.

David Perron made it a two-goal game at 4:16 of the third period when he split two defensemen and, while getting hauled down to the ice on a delayed penalty call, slid the puck between Henrik Lundqvist's pads.

"Every time you have the lead , you're never safe," Lundqvist said. "A couple penalties or they get their big guys going and you never know, it can change so fast. You have to battle until the end."

And the Rangers did that. Stepan capitalized on Evgeni Malkin's turnover and finished a three-on-one break by sending a wrist shot past backup goalie Thomas Greiss at 6:15 for his eighth goal.

The victory ended a four-day, three-game road swing and pulled the Rangers (56) within two points of the Penguins (58) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, "This was a total team effort tonight, especially with the number of games we've had to play."

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