NEW YORK (AP) - Steve Rucchin wasn't supposed to be in Sidney Crosby's passing lane, and the 18-year-old rookie never saw him.
Much to his delight, Rucchin intercepted the puck and raced up ice to score a short-handed goal that started the New York Rangers on the way to a 3-1 victory over Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
``I came off the bench with a little bit of a late change,'' Rucchin said. ``It was a fortunate bounce but if I wasn't coming off the bench I probably would've been a lot lower.''
That came just 4:05 in but Pittsburgh could do no better than one goal against Henrik Lundqvist, who made 24 saves in the 22nd win of his rookie season.
Crosby played despite being bothered by flu-like symptoms, but said other than feeling a little weak he was OK. The effects of his costly turnover seemed to affect his mood more.
``I just tried to hit (Mark) Recchi and there was a guy right in my face and I didn't see Rucchin in the middle,'' Crosby said. ``I just tried to make a play and got picked.''
Michal Rozsival snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, and Petr Sykora added a power-play goal in the third for the Rangers, who defeated Pittsburgh at home for the second time in five days and for the fifth time this season (5-1-1).
The Rangers went 3-1-1 on their five-game homestand that included a 7-1 thrashing of the Penguins on Saturday. New York embarrassed Pittsburgh in that one with a 51-14 shots advantage.
``It's just frustrating to lose, that's pretty much it,'' Crosby said. ``I thought we played better but I don't think our standard should be compared to the last game we played here. We played better than that but it's not good.''
The Penguins used the off days between games to rest and practice back in Pennsylvania. Recchi scored the tying goal during a power play with 9.4 seconds left in the opening period, but the Penguins still lost for the 13th time in 14 games (1-12-1).
``We weren't happy with the way we played Saturday and we're still not happy,'' forward John LeClair said.
New York edged Pittsburgh in shots 26-25. Lundqvist was bailed out a couple of times by drives that hit the posts including one off the stick of Guillaume Lefebvre 5:44 into the third period that could've tied it.
``I didn't talk to (the posts) but I will when I get to sleep. I will thank them,'' Lundqvist said.
Rucchin got the scoring started while teammate Marcel Hossa was serving a hooking penalty. Crosby tried to slide a pass to the center of the blue line from the right-wing boards, but Rucchin got in the way and brought the puck up ice. He made a short move to his right and then cut back left to get around Marc-Andre Fleury's right pad and deposit his 10th goal behind him.
``They are frustrating and demoralizing to give up, especially since we didn't score any 5-on-5 goals,'' Rucchin said.
Recchi got the Penguins even before the end of the first period by taking the puck from Fleury and weaving all the way through the Rangers defense before beating Lundqvist for his 18th goal.
Unlike Saturday, Pittsburgh held a 9-7 shots advantage after one period and only trailed 19-18 following 40 minutes. In the previous drubbing, the Penguins were outshot 30-8 through two periods.
Rozsival made it 2-1 with his fourth of the season on the power play at 10:33 of the second. Sykora sealed the win with New York's third special-teams goal of the night - with an assist from Rucchin - knocking in a loose puck from in front 9:51 into the third.
The Rangers played Philadelphia on Monday and squandered a two-goal lead in the third period before losing 3-2 in overtime to the team they trail by two points in the Atlantic Division.
New York made sure to protect a similar advantage against Pittsburgh, which fell to 12-31-10 - the worst mark in the Eastern Conference.
``It felt good to get a win again because the last loss really bothers me and I think it bothers the whole team,'' Lundqvist said. ``It feels good to be back on the right track.''
Notes: The teams will meet one more time this season, April 13 in Pittsburgh. ... Since beating the Rangers 4-3 in overtime on New Year's Eve, the Penguins are 2-12-2. ... Fleury earned an assist on Recchi's goal for his first NHL point. ... Rozsival has scored three of his four goals this season against Pittsburgh ... Rangers C Michael Nylander played in his 700th NHL game. ... Pittsburgh was 1-for-6 on the power play but allowed its seventh short-handed goal. New York was 2-for-9.
|SHG - Steve Rucchin (10) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Mark Recchi (18) ASST: Marc-Andre Fleury (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Michal Rozsival (4) ASST: Martin Straka (42), Michael Nylander (36)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Petr Sykora (11) ASST: Steve Rucchin (11), Tom Poti (14)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Marcel Hossa Hooking|
|Konstantin Koltsov Hooking against Jaromir Jagr|
|Brooks Orpik Charging against Petr Sykora|
|Mark Recchi Hooking|
|Michal Rozsival Hooking against Konstantin Koltsov|
|Michael Nylander Hooking against John Leclair|
|Sidney Crosby Holding against Michal Rozsival|
|Colby Armstrong Hooking against Jaromir Jagr|
|Darius Kasparaitis Interference against Michel Ouellet|
|Sergei Gonchar Holding against Jason Strudwick|
|John Leclair Hooking against Dominic Moore|
|Martin Rucinsky Interference against Colby Armstrong|
|Colby Armstrong Hi-sticking against Marek Malik|
|Jason Ward Hooking against Konstantin Koltsov|
|Ryan Whitney Holding against Ville Nieminen|