The New York Rangers had goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to thank for a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh after they were completely outplayed by the Penguins for most of the game at the Consol Energy Center on Friday.
The Penguins outshot the Rangers 38-21, but could only generate one goal from Ben Lovejoy on a two-on-one rush five minutes into the game.
Following the Pittsburgh goal, Rangers coach John Tortorella called a timeout to inspire a team who had not yet registered a shot on goal.
“It looked early on like we were a team that was saying: ‘Uh oh, we’re tired, we’ve won a lot of games here lately, this may be just our bad night,’” Tortorella told reporters. “We played in spurts after that, but Lundqvist was unbelievable.”
Although the Penguins continued to dictate play, the Rangers tied the score on a rebound goal by Brad Richards late in the first period.
Brandon Dubinsky scored a shorthanded goal early in the second on a feed from Ryan Callahan, who made a beautiful move around a sprawled Penguins defender.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed a loose puck early in the third period which allowed Derek Stepan to further extend the Rangers lead with Lundqvist protecting it through to victory.
“A lot of that game is the way we need to play, but it comes down to a couple of mistakes by our team,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “They come out of the [first] period 1-1 even though we dictated the first 12-14 minutes.”
The Penguins believed they narrowed the Rangers lead to one in the third period, but a goal was disallowed because Chris Kunitz collided with Lundqvist prior to the puck going in.
Pittsburgh had more bad news when center Jordan Staal left the game in the third period with a left knee injury sustained in a collision with Mike Rupp, who was assessed a kneeing penalty.
“I’m turning, got my legs out, I don’t move my knee, but I understand the call,” Rupp said. “I’m 6-5, he’s 6-4, we’ve got long legs and sometimes those things happen. I hope he’s all right.”
DEVILS 5, PANTHERS 2
In Newark, New Jersey, Ilya Kovalchuk had two third-period goals to lead New Jersey over Florida.
Kovalchuk broke a 2-2 tie at 11 minutes, 40 seconds, when he made a nice rush up the ice and took a return pass from Patrik Elias, who was playing in his 1,000th game.
Kovalchuk added an empty-net goal in the closing minute, his 14th goal of the season.
The Devils got a first-period goal from rookie Adam Henrique and a second-period goal from Elias.
HURRICANES 4, SABRES 2
In Raleigh, Noreth Carolina, Eric Staal had a goal and two assists to lead Carolina past Buffalo.
Chad LaRose scored the go-ahead goal with 11 minutes, 50 seconds left, while Justin Faulk also scored and Brandon Sutter added an empty-net goal for the Hurricanes.
Jason Pominville was credited with a bizarre goal and added an assist, while Thomas Vanek also scored for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost nine of 12.
AVALANCHE 4, BLACKHAWKS 0
In Chicago, Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves to earn his second shutout, while T.J. Galiardi had a goal and an assist to lead Colorado past Chicago for their fourth straight win.
David Jones, David Van Der Gulik and Chuck Kobasew also scored for the Avalanche, who have won nine of 10. Varlamov made a few sharp saves from in close, but was not consistently tested by the Blackhawks in his sixth career shutout.