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Malkin's OT goal lifts Pens to 5-4 win over Rangers

by Dave Lozo

NEW YORK -- On a night when Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head, the Pittsburgh Penguins saved their best for last.

Evgeni Malkin scored with 1:18 left in overtime to give the Pens a 5-4 victory at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a game that saw Pittsburgh erase a two-goal deficit.

Malkin's winner was the Penguins' 55th shot on goal. Lundqvist's 50 saves -- many of which were spectacular -- were a career-high in the regular season.

The victory moved Pittsburgh past New Jersey into first place in the Atlantic Division with 80 points. The Devils have 79 but have two games in hand.

The Penguins entered the third period trailing 4-3, but Alex Goligoski's bad-angled goal ricocheted past Lundqvist with 8:01 to tie the score. To say the Rangers were dominated in the third period would be an understatement -- the Pens had a 19-1 advantage in shots on goal.

That domination continued in overtime, where the Pens had all four shots. Malkin's game-winner was a blast from the point that found its way past Lundqvist. The goal came just as a Penguins' power play was expiring and Rangers defenseman Wade Redden was stepping out of the penalty box.

"Lundqvist played very well tonight; lots of saves," Malkin said.

Lundqvist's effort wasn't completely wasted -- the Rangers picked up a point by surviving until overtime. And in that third period, "survival" was the operative word.

"Hank was outstanding for us tonight," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We will look at some things -- what we did good, what we did wrong. At the end of the night, we grabbed a point out of here. Although it was an ugly one, it is a point."

It was two big points for the Penguins, who looked like they were going to leave MSG with nothing midway through the second period. The Rangers owned a 4-2 lead and had chased Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed those four goals on just 12 shots in his first game since Feb. 14.

Brent Johnson was perfect -- although not that busy -- in relief. He stopped four shots during 30:53 of ice time and gave the Penguins a chance to come back.

"That's a pretty good example of how we want to play the game," said Pens coach Dan Bylsma, talking about his team's 55 shots and physical brand of hockey that yielded 50 hits. "You'd like to tilt the ice so it's 70/30 and wear teams down. Maybe they get a power-play goal, maybe you find yourself in a situation where you are down by two, but when we kept playing that way, the feeling in our dressing room was (winning) was going to be inevitable."

Despite the huge disparity in shots (55-16), it looked as though the Rangers were going to find a way to steal two points.

Artem Anisimov opened the scoring for the Rangers by ripping a wrist shot over Fleury's catching glove 2:17 into the game. The Pens answered back with goals by Chris Kunitz and Staal, but Chris Drury tied the score at 2-2 with pretty power-play goal with 5:21 left in the period.

Drury gathered the puck while on his knees near the crease and with his back to Fleury. He spun to his backhand whipped a shot past a surprised Fleury, who looked every bit like a goalie who hadn't played in nearly three weeks.

"It was just a real nice play by Olli (Jokinen) and a good shot from (Michael) Del Zotto," Drury said of how the puck found its way onto his stick. "I was just able to scoop up the rebound that actually hit me. I'm just glad I found a hole."

The Rangers looked like they were in the driver's seat when Michal Rozsival and Brandon Dubinsky made it 4-2 in the second period, but Mike Rupp pulled the Penguins back to within a goal with 5:37 left in the period, setting the stage for an all-out assault during the third period that yielded the Pens their second straight win after the Olympic break.

One bright spot for the Rangers was how well they played without leading scorer Marian Gaborik. Not including his four minutes of ice time against the Penguins on Feb. 12, Gaborik has missed New York's last five games with leg and groin injuries.

But even without their leading scorer, the Rangers are averaging 3.4 goals-per-game in his absence. Entering Thursday's game, the Rangers were averaging just 2.49 goals per game, good for 27th in the League.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL

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