PITTSBURGH---Henrik Lundqvist had lost his composure.
After the Rangers goaltender was superb in throwing a shutout for more than 57 minutes tonight, and his teammates had killed three consecutive penalties while holding a 1-0 lead in the third period, the Penguins scored twice in 38 seconds.
He smashed his stick, flung it away, shouted at the officials and received a two-minute minor. “I wanted to show how unhappy I was with the calls in the last 10 minutes,” said Lundqvist. “We had a chance to win and it seemed like they were taking it away from us. It was upsetting. I just felt like I have to be cooler, but this game meant a lot to me.”
It seemed all but certain that with the Rangers down a man with Lundqvist penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct at 18:07, the Penguins comeback, fashioned by Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke goals, would stand.
But shorthanded, defenseman Marc Staal joined the rush and deposited Brandon Dubinsky’s pass behind Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game just 27 seconds later, and in overtime, Dubinsky set up Ryan Callahan for the winner at 3:38 of overtime.
“The way we did it shows a lot of character, especially early in the season,” said Callahan, who helped shadow and contain Sidney Crosby all night. “We were battling. It’s a back to back game, and you tie it up late and win it in overtime and you come into Pittsburgh and get two points, it’s big.” Callahan’s goal, his fifth of the year, gave him two points in the game. He assisted on Staal’s shorthander that created an emotional swing.
"Things kind of fell apart on us pretty quickly in the end, but down by 1, penalty-killing, you've got to take a chance," said Staal, "The puck squirted out in our end, I tried to create some space for Dubi and he did the rest.” He dropped the puck for Staal, who shot “and just saw it land behind him (Fleury)"
This city has not been particularly friendly to the Rangers: They hadn’t won in 10 games at the old Igloo until a 3-2 OT triumph last Feb. 12, so the change of scenery to the new CONSOL Energy Center was a welcome sight.
Lundqvist, starting only his third game in 11 days, made 37 saves as the Rangers climbed to 6-2 on the road and moved into second place in the Atlantic Division at 10-7-1.
"I thought Dubinsky took over in the second half of the game and made two really big plays at the end," said coach John Tortorella, who was irate about the calls (six power plays to none for the Rangers) that tilted the ice toward the Penguins. “We were down a man for nine minutes in that (third) period,” said Tortorella. “Please don’t ask me about the refereeing,” he said twice in his post-game news conference.
Erik Christensen’s third goal of the year at 10:16 of the second provided the 1-0 lead, but the Penguins were dominating in faceoffs and shots, 24-14 after 40 minutes.
Early in the dramatic third period, Mark Letsetu streaked in on a breakaway after the puck bounced off Michael Sauer, and he went forehand to try to open the five hole, but Lundqvist got his stick down and stoned him. The Penguins had their fifth power play at 15:23 of the third, and Lundqvist stopped Kunitz with 3:48 a right toe save.
“Hank was phenomenal,” said Dubinsky. "We can't sit here and tell you we had a great game. The nice thing about it is we found a way to win.” Said Lundqvist: “The PK was the key, we’ll take this one and sneak out of here.”