Pens improve to 2-0 with win over Rangers
New York, NY – James Neal tallied two goals and Evgeni Malkin added three assists, as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Rangers, 6-3, on Sunday, ruining New York's home opener at the renovated Madison Square Garden.
Tyler Kennedy, Matt Niskanen, Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang each scored once, while Sidney Crosby notched his first point of the season with an assist for the Penguins, who opened the season with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.
"It's a good start," Crosby said. "We've played some good periods of hockey. I want to keep that going and getting better."
Tomas Vokoun started in place of Marc-Andre Fleury and made 31 saves in the victory.
Rick Nash recorded his first goal as a Ranger, while Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Callahan also lit the lamp for New York, which fell to 0-2 on the season.
"We have to take these last two games and look at them, watch the video, and learn some things from them," Callahan remarked. "I think we got away a little bit from the way we were playing last year -- the hard-nosed style, in your face. I think it starts with that, and it trickles from there into our systems."
Henrik Lundqvist surrendered four goals on 18 shots before being removed in favor of Martin Biron, who stopped all but one of the 20 shots he faced.
The Atlantic Division rivals wasted little time getting acquainted, as Arron Asham and Tanner Glass dropped the gloves right after the opening faceoff.
After the dust settled, the teams exchanged power-play goals, with Neal scoring on a slapper for the Penguins at the 1:48 mark before the Rangers took advantage of a 5-on-3 when Callahan jammed home a rebound to knot the game at 1-1 just before the midpoint of the frame.
Pittsburgh, though, was able to regain control with a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the period.
The first came at the 15:05 mark when Kennedy cleaned up a rebound off a Joe Vitale miss to put Pittsburgh in front, 2-1. Then, with just over a minute left in the period, Crosby won an offensive zone faceoff back to Niskanen, who threw a low shot on net that deflected off the skate of New York defenseman Dan Girardi and snuck through the five-hole of Lundqvist for a 3-1 lead at the 18:50 mark.
Malkin's second assist set up Pittsburgh's next goal midway through the second, as he made a nice feed to a cutting Dupuis, who was able to tip the puck past Lundqvist for a 4-1 advantage at the 9:11 mark.
Lundqvist was promptly pulled in favor of Biron, who kept the Rangers off the board until early in the third, when Malkin slid a pass from the low left side to a wide-open Neal in the slot. Neal quickly rifled a shot high over the shoulder of Biron to make it 5-1 at 5:06.
New York answered less than a minute later when Pyatt tipped-in a nice feed from Michael Del Zotto and then pulled within two after Nash drove hard at the right post before switching to the forehand and beating Vokoun for a short- handed tally to make it 5-3 with 5:15 left in the third.
Pittsburgh, though, put any thoughts of a comeback to rest when Letang scored an empty netter from his own side of the red line at the 18:08 mark to account for the final margin.
Pittsburgh has won five straight meetings with the Rangers ... Crosby has scored at least one point in each of the last 14 games he has played against the Rangers ... Malkin has a six-game point streak against the Rangers ... New York, which lost at Boston in Saturday's season opener, will host the Bruins on Wednesday ... Pittsburgh opens its home slate against Toronto on Wednesday.