Richard Park and Evgeni Malkin scored early third-period goals to help the Pittsburgh Penguins snap a 1-1 tie and skate to a 4-1 victory over the Rangers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The defeat was only the second in 11 games against Atlantic Division opponents for the Rangers this season, and their first divisional loss since losing on Long Island back on October 15th.
Park scored off a 3-on-1 rush up ice by the Penguins 2:33 into the third period. He snapped a left-wing shot past Henrik Lundqvist with the Rangers caught back up ice. Malkin then roofed a backhander from in front after a Blueshirts' giveaway to put Pittsburgh up 3-1 at 7:10.
Malkin iced the game with his 24th goal of the season, second of the night, and seventh in the last four games, into the empty net with Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker.
Pittsburgh roared out of the gates Thursday, not only scoring just 3:16 into the game on Chris Kunitz's 14th goal at 3:16, but firing the first eight shots of the contest on goal over the intiial nine minutes of play. Stu Bickel's rousing heavyweight fight with Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi at 8:56 seemed to awaken his teammates, and the Rangers followed with the next six shots on goal.
The Blueshirts pulled even at 10:06 of the second period when Carl Hagelin sped up left wing, accepted a head-man pass from Marian Gaborik, and then slipped a shot through Marc-Andre Fleury's pads for his eighth goal of the season.
Lundqvist made 32 saves for the Rangers, while Fleury stopped 30 shots for the Penguins.