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NEW YORK – Sidney Crosby got angry, and then the Pittsburgh Penguins got even in a big way against the division-leading New York Rangers.
Following a first-period skirmish with Ryan McDonagh, Crosby had two goals and an assist during a five-goal second period and the Penguins shut down the Rangers in a 6-1 rout on Wednesday night.
The Penguins held New York without a shot on goal over 23:59 spanning the second and third periods. Scott Wilson, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Matt Cullen also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray had 16 saves.
The Penguins moved two points behind New York for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
"This is as good of a game as we've played all year," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
The Rangers won at Pittsburgh 5-2 on Monday behind a breakout second period, and the Penguins exacted revenge Wednesday in nearly the exact same fashion.
"We learned from (the last) game," Crosby said.
Pittsburgh trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, but then the defending Stanley Cup champions took control, chasing Henrik Lundqvist after four goals on 17 shots.
"It starts with scoring," Sheary said. "I think we've been having chances and we're putting the puck in the net the last few games. I think tonight we got a little puck luck. I think we earned our chances and you're not going to lose much when you score six goals so that was good for us."
Wilson got his third of the season 2:02 into the second to tie it. Stationed in front of Lundqvist, Wilson corralled a cross-ice pass from Kessel and fired a forehand shot.
Crosby put the Penguins ahead 2:56 later by redirecting Ian Cole's point shot. Cole had intercepted Mats Zuccarello's clearing attempt inside the blue line to start the counter attack.
Kessel increased Pittsburgh's lead to 3-1 with a wrist shot over Lundqvist's left shoulder at 10:12, and Crosby pushed the advantage to 4-1 2:45 later with his second of the game and NHL-leading 14th of the season. Crosby and Sheary broke in on a 2-on-1 with McDonagh defending, and Crosby's attempted pass deflected off of McDonagh's stick and fluttered over Lundqvist's paddle.
"We gave them some chances," Marc Staal said. "Just an avalanche we couldn't stop."
Following Crosby's second goal, New York coach Alain Vigneault replaced Lundqvist with Antti Raanta.
The goaltending change didn't work, as Sheary wristed his fourth goal of the season with 3:18 left. Cullen's fourth of the season with 6:55 left in the third ended the scoring.
Raanta finished with 19 saves on 21 shots.
Pittsburgh may have been sparked by a first-period incident involving McDonagh, Sheary and Crosby.
Crosby dropped his gloves and challenged McDonagh after New York's captain drove Sheary into the half wall. McDonagh had his jersey pulled over his head during the tussle, and officials assessed McDonagh a five-minute major for boarding and Crosby got a two-minute minor for roughing.
"I saw (Sheary) kind of get in the numbers," Crosby said. "I just tried to stick up for him. Those are hits that sometimes happen fast and I don't think (McDonagh) was targeting (him) by any means.
"We're a team. We want to stick together, and I was just trying to stick up for him."
The Penguins didn't score on the extended power play but did generate three shots and their pressure kept the Rangers from being able to implement and sustain their attacking style of play.
New York led after Rick Nash's power-play goal 4:22 into the game. Nash poked a loose puck past a sprawled Murray for his ninth of the season, five seconds after Evgeni Malkin was assessed a two-minute minor for tripping J.T. Miller in the neutral zone.
New York went 1 for 3 on the man advantage while killing all three Pittsburgh power plays.
New York's 17 shots were a season-low. Zuccarello ended the nearly 24-minute shot drought with a backhander with 3:45 left in the game.
"I can't explain to you at this time exactly what happened," Vigneault said. "Obviously I'm disappointed. The players are disappointed in our game. I know our fans are disappointed."
NOTES: Newly acquired LW Matt Puempel participated in New York's morning skate. The Rangers claimed Puempel off waivers Monday from the Senators. He and D Adam Clendening were scratched. ... Pittsburgh scratched D Steve Oleksy and LW Tom Sestito. RW Patric Hornqvist did not make the trip as he is recuperating from concussion symptoms. ... Following the morning skate, Vigneault said the Rangers essentially modeled themselves after the Penguins during the offseason. "There's no doubt they found a way to play at a fast pace, with speed; the right way. They won. They're the champions," Vigneault said. ... The Metropolitan Division rivals will meet three more times in the regular season: Dec. 20 in Pittsburgh, March 31 in New York and April 9 in New York.
Penguins: Play at Minnesota on Friday night.
Rangers: Play at Philadelphia on Friday night.