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Slumping Rangers fall to Penguins

Chris Conner of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his

Chris Conner of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against the New York Rangers on Jan. 25, 2010 at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Getty Images

For two straight games, the Rangers didn't score a goal. Last night, Artem Anisimov had two, his first points in 18 games, and the Rangers held a one-goal lead over the Penguins midway through the third period.

The lead, however, was gone in a flash as the Penguins scored twice in a minute and went on to a 4-2 victory. Chris Conner, who was summoned from the AHL yesterday to replace the injured Bill Guerin, netted the game-winner, his second goal of the game and his NHL career.

With Marian Gaborik in the penalty box for slashing, Evgeni Malkin tied the score at 2 on the power play at 9:46, just 31 seconds after Anisimov had given the Rangers the lead on a blast from the right point that hit Chris Drury.

Then, after Henrik Lundqvist sticked Sidney Crosby's shot off a rush away to the right, Conner fired the puck past Lundqvist from the left side for the 3-2 lead. Pascal Dupuis sealed the Rangers' third consecutive loss with an empty-netter.

"This one was painful," Lundqvist said. "We get the penalty, they get a lucky goal on a deflection off our player. We've had a bunch of these games this year. It could be a different story if we manage to win these games."

The 1-1 game could have changed at the beginning of the third, but the Rangers went scoreless for six minutes of power-play time. At the 20-second mark, Jordan Staal was sent off for four minutes for high-sticking Vinny Prospal, and with 10 seconds left on that penalty, the Rangers drew another.

"We get one early there, it's a different game," Brandon Dubinsky said.

After Ryan Callahan caught up with Matt Cooke on a shorthanded breakaway and prevented a shot, Cooke roughed Callahan near the bench. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury smothered two high shots from his knees in that sequence.

"When we do get set up, it just seems we miss a pass, and we've got to be better at retrieving pucks," Michael Del Zotto said.

After missing four games because of a broken ring finger, Fleury stopped 28 shots as the Penguins (33-20-1) took their seventh straight against the sinking Rangers (24-22-7), inducing four this season. They have outscored the Rangers 20-9 in those four games.

"Artie scored a big [second] goal and we had to respond after that," said Dubinsky, who was on a line with Prospal and Gaborik. "We had to make sure we did our job, and we didn't."

After two successive shutouts, Anisimov had ended a team scoreless streak of 156:32 when his wrister from the high slot zipped past Fleury's glove at 13:04 of the second. Pens defenseman Mark Eaton, harried by Chris Higgins, turned the puck over and Anisimov charged in. Conner had scored at 2:47 of the first on a cross-ice feed from Crosby.

The rally ruined the first multigoal game for the 21-year-old Anisimov, who poked a loose puck between Fleury's skates at 9:15 of the third. Fleury accidentally tapped it in with the skate blade.

"I was watching it from behind the net,"Anisimov said.

New York Sports