Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist came up big down the stretch and finished with 23 saves as the New York Rangers held off the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2-1 victory in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider each scored and Dan Girardi supplied two assists for the Rangers, who took a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Patric Hornqvist tallied a late goal for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots in the loss.
"Sometimes it's hard to realize what you do in the first or second (period) really means as much as it does," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "You have to find that level of desperation for the entire game."
The series will resume Wednesday with Game 4 in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins cut their deficit in half on Hornqvist's marker with 6:48 remaining in regulation. Ian Cole's shot from the left point was caught in traffic, but Hornqvist gathered the loose puck and sent a wrister into the top of the net.
Lundqvist and the Rangers weathered the storm the rest of the way. The Rangers netminder threw out his left pad to stop Ben Lovejoy's slap shot from the top of the left circle with under five minutes to play.
Pittsburgh pulled Fleury with under a minute to play, but Lundqvist held his ground despite the extra attacker and fended off a chaotic scramble in tight as time expired.
"We were able to get off to a pretty good start," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "They had a really strong push in the third which was to be expected. They have a great team and great players and we were able to hold them off."
Unfazed by the deafening confines of the Consol Energy Center, the Rangers used their speed to get off to a great start. They scored the game's first goal for a the third straight time and held the Penguins without a shot for 15-plus minutes to begin the game.
"I think we forced a lot of plays in the first period," Pittsburgh head coach Mike Johnston said. "We can't do that. We have to make sure we have better shot selection and get pucks to the net."
Sensing a poor Pittsburgh line change, Keith Yandle sent a stretch pass through the neutral zone to a streaking Hagelin, who finished off the breakaway with a low slapper at 8:43.
Crosby came inches from tying the game, as his wrister from the right circle rang off the far post with 3:55 left in the first.
Kreider increased the Rangers lead to 2-0 with 8:53 to play in the middle stanza. Marc Staal fired a shot wide of the net on purpose and Kreider was there to wrist the carom off the end boards past Fleury.
Over eight minutes into the third, Crosby emerged from below the goal line, skated across the crease and wristed a shot in tight, but Lundqvist was up to the task with a right pad stop.
New York owns an 8-1 series record after winning Game 3 on the road, dating back to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 1984 against the Islanders ... Vigneault won his 52nd career playoff game, passing Hall of Famer Roger Neilson for sole possession of 21st on the NHL's all-time list ... New York forward Derick Brassard won 11 of his 17 faceoff attempts ... Penguins forward Beau Bennett missed the game with an upper-body injury and was replaced by Scott Wilson, who played in just his second career game ... Each of the three games in this series have been determined by one goal.