PITTSBURGH (AP) -- There were too many former Pittsburgh players wearing the
Rangers' blue shirts for New York to let up against the bottom-dwelling
Mark Messier set up the Rangers' first two goals and Jussi Markkanen
withstood a penalty shot and a sizable Pittsburgh shots advantage to lead New
York past the Penguins 4-1 Saturday.
"If it hadn't been for Jussi, then we probably could have lost the game,"
Rangers coach Glen Sather said of Markkanen, who stopped 40 shots. "He played
very well, stopped a couple of breakaways, stopped a penalty shot. He was real
Two excellent passes by Messier created goals by former Penguins forwards
Dan LaCouture in the first period and Petr Nedved in the second to help the
Rangers close a 3-1 road trip that began with victories in Phoenix and Los
Bobby Holik had a goal and an assist in the final 51/2 minutes after
Pittsburgh had cut it to 2-1.
"Pittsburgh plays hard, and we knew they would come back," LaCouture said.
"We wanted to get back (to a multiple-goal lead) as quickly as we could."
The Rangers have won three straight in Pittsburgh dating to last season, the
first time that's happened since they won their final game there in the 1983-84
season and their first two in the 1984-85 season.
New York sent a not-so-subtle message in the opening minute that it wouldn't
be distracted by the Penguins' unimposing 9-22-5-3 record when Lindros leveled
defenseman Dan Focht with a hard but clean check into the boards. Focht left
with an apparent concussion.
Not only did the Penguins not respond to Lindros' physical play, they
appeared to back off. Less than a minute later, LaCouture scored only his
second of the season off Messier's on-the-tape pass with 1:50 gone.
Alexei Kovalev, another of the five former Penguins who played for New York,
cut across the middle and fed Messier in the right circle, and Messier found
LaCouture driving to the net.
"I got a great pass," LaCouture said.
Pittsburgh, losing its third afternoon game in four days, had a chance to
get back in it when the Rangers -- the NHL's most-penalized team -- spent most of
the second half of the period killing three penalties.
But the Penguins didn't come close to getting the puck past Markkanen during
that stretch. The Rangers' backup also kept the Rangers up 1-0 midway through
the second, cleanly stopping Eric Meloche's penalty shot awarded when Boris
Mironov pulled down Meloche on a short-handed breakaway.
"He's on top of the puck right now," Holik said of Markkanen, who had two
of the Rangers' three victories on the road trip. "When you're on top of it,
the rebounds don't lay there in front of you and get (knocked) in ... he's
pushing it to the corners or out."
On the first penalty shot by a Penguins player at home since Martin Straka
scored against St. Louis on Jan. 19, 2000, Markkanen immediately came out of
the net to challenge Meloche. Rather than putting on a move to go around the
goalie, he shot directly into the pads.
"Alexei gave me a heads-up and said he might go to the 5-hole and that's
why I covered there," said Markkanen, who improved to 7-4-1.
Meloche didn't intend to try to go between the goalie's pads.
"The ice wasn't very good and I played a different shot than I wanted to,"
Meloche said. "I wanted to go under him and get it behind him. But the puck
started to bounce on me and I just felt if he went back any further, I could go
it through the 5-hole."
Meloche, playing his fourth game since being recalled from the minors, did
make it 2-1 with 61/2 minutes remaining when he took Tom Kostopoulos' up-ice pass
to beat Markkanen while skating down the slot. Pittsburgh led 41-27 in shots,
but couldn't score during a 5-on-3 advantage for two minutes early in the third
Holik's heads-up play restored the Rangers' two-goal lead just over a minute
after Meloche's goal. He stole the puck off Caron's stick as the goalie tried
to play the puck behind the net and fed Jed Ortmeyer in front of the abandoned
net for his second of the season. Holik also scored an empty-net goal with 10