Pitts­burgh power surge burns Rangers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Pitts­burgh

The stand­ings show the New York Rangers and Pitts­burgh Pen­guins tied atop the hy­per com­pet­i­tive Metropoli­tan Divi­sion.

But on the ice — at least for now — there ap­pears to be plenty of sep­a­ra­tion.

Captain Sid­ney Crosby picked up his NHL-lead­ing 22nd goal and Ev­geni Malkin added a goal and two as­sists as the Pen­guins over­whelmed the Rangers 7-2 on Tues­day night.

Bryan Rust, Phil Kes­sel, Justin Schultz, Pa­tric Horn­qvist and Nick Bonino also scored for Pitts­burgh, while Matt Mur­ray made 26 saves.

“Every­one chipped in,” Crosby said. “Some nights, you have guys who are on and some guys have tough nights. I felt like tonight ev­ery­body was in­volved and cre­at­ing things. From the goalie out, ev­ery­body played well.”

Michael Grab­ner col­lected his team-high 14th goal for the Rangers and Matt Puem­pel added his sec­ond, but New York strug­gled to keep pace.

Antti Raanta stopped 40 of

Score­board

47 shots and al­lowed four third-pe­riod goals af­ter the Rangers had pulled within 3-2.

The Pen­guins have outscored New York 13-3 in two games against each other. No other team has put up more than five goals on the Rangers this sea­son.

“The schedule just caught up to our guys,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “That’s just the way it is.”

The Rangers went into the game with an NHL-best 23 wins — just ahead of Pitts- burgh, Colum­bus, Wash­ing­ton and Philadelphia.

The Pen­guins briefly claimed the top spot last week be­fore a pair of over­time losses to Los Angeles and Toronto, a 27-hour stretch in which Pitts­burgh’s high-pow­ered lineup man­aged all of one goal.

Pen­guins coach Mike Sul­li­van tin­kered with the lines in search of a spark and found one seem­ingly ev­ery­where he looked, whether it was putting Horn­qvist and Chris Ku­nitz to­gether with Malkin on the sec­ond line or re­unit­ing the “HBK” line of Kes­sel, Bonino and Carl Hagelin that worked so well dur­ing last spring’s run to the Stan­ley Cup.

Ten Pen­guins col­lected at least one point against the Rangers and seven fin­ished with two or more.

“When we load up on the top six (for­wards), it’s an eas­ier matchup game for our op­po­nents,” Sul­li­van said. “The bal­ance makes us more dif­fi­cult to play against.”

Their meet­ing on the eve of the of­fi­cial start of win­ter was more of a lit­mus test of sorts for two teams that won’t face each other again un­til March 31.

Pitts­burgh dom­i­nated the open­ing 20 min­utes, pep­per­ing Raanta early while dic­tat­ing the pace.

Crosby opened the scor­ing at 5:55, streak­ing into the slot to re­di­rect Ian Cole’s shot over Raanta’s stick for his teamhigh eighth pow­er­play goal of the sea­son.

“This group’s been to­gether long enough now that each in­di­vid­ual has to know what it takes for our group to be suc­cess­ful,” Rangers de­fense­man Ryan McDon­agh said.

“We can’t af­ford to be sleep­ing at the start and kind of crawl our way through.”

The Pen­guins went in front for good 4:43 into the sec­ond when Malkin shook off his check at the blue­line be­fore drilling a one-timer past Raanta off a feed from Ku­nitz.

Kes­sel found him­self to the left of the New York goal then deked his way to the front of the net. His shot car­omed off Raanta and just over the goal line.

Grab­ner briefly gave the Rangers life when he beat Mur­ray 1:52 into the third, but Schultz re­stored the two-goal cush­ion just over two min­utes later.

When Crosby hit a dart­ing Rust with a slick cen­ter­ing pass, Rust flicked it into the net, putting the Pen­guins on their way to ty­ing the Rangers atop the divi­sion.

Goals by Horn­qvist and Bonino turned it into a blowout in the fi­nal min­utes.

“When they made it 3-2, we knew on the bench if we take our foot off the gas, they were go­ing to jam it down our throats,” Rust said.

“We just had to turn it up a notch.”

Jaromir Jagr had three as­sists to move into a tie for sec­ond place on the NHL’s all-time points list as the Florida Pan­thers edged the Buf­falo Sabres 4-3 in a shootout on Tues­day night.

Jagr pulled even with Mark Messier with 1,887 points, trail­ing only Wayne Gret­zky (2,857).

Alek­sander Barkov and Vin­cent Trocheck scored for the Pan­thers n the shootout and Roberto Luongo stopped 33 shots, in­clud­ing both at­tempts in the tiebreaker, to pull into a tie with Terry Sawchuk for fifth all-time with 447 wins.

Nick Bjugstad had his first goal of the sea­son, Keith Yan­dle also scored and Barkov had a goal and two as­sists for the Pan­thers.

Ras­mus Ris­to­lainen and San Rein­hart each had a goal and an as­sist for the Sabres. Evan­der Kane also scored for Buf­falo.

CHARLES LE­CLAIRE / USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Justin Schultz (left) and Ev­geni Malkin cel­e­brate Malkin’s sec­ond-pe­riod goal dur­ing Tues­day’s 7-2 romp over the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena in Pitts­burgh.

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