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game recap

Rangers overcome slow start, defeat Penguins

New York scores five unanswered goals, takes four-point lead atop Metropolitan Division

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers were pleased with their finish against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.

Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Kevin Hayes each had a goal and an assist for New York, which scored five straight goals to defeat Pittsburgh 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena.

The Rangers (14-5-1) lead the Penguins (11-5-3) by four points atop the Metropolitan Division.

"This was a really strong team effort, I felt," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought after the first period, we settled down. We started playing better away from the puck and gave them less rush opportunities. … That's a real strong team, but we were able to do what we had to do to get the job done tonight."

 

WATCH: All Rangers vs. Penguins highlights

 

With New York trailing by two goals early in the second period, Nash cut the Penguins lead to 2-1. After Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz slid to block Nash's attempted cross-crease pass to Derek Stepan, Nash regained possession and shot over goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's glove 5:31 into the second.

Video: NYR@PIT: Nash slips a loose puck past Fleury

Grabner tied it 2-2 with 5:37 remaining in the second with his 12th goal, which tied Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine for the NHL-lead, and forward J.T. Miller made it 3-2 on a shorthanded goal with 48.5 seconds left in the period.

Hayes scored with 7:44 remaining in the third period to push the lead to 4-2. Stepan scored an empty-net goal with 1:23 left. New York goalie Antti Raanta made 29 saves and is 5-0-0 this season.

Video: NYR@PIT: Grabner goes top shelf with a backhander

Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel scored twice in his NHL debut. Guentzel, who played left wing alongside center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Phil Kessel, gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead on a wrist shot 1:02 into the first period.

His goal was the fastest scored by a Penguins player making his debut, surpassing forward Rick Kessell (2:19 on March 21, 1970).

"It's a dream come true to play here," Guentzel said. "Obviously you have a little bit of nerves at the start and you just try to get them out early, so with the goal I think it helped a little bit."

Video: NYR@PIT: Guentzel nets a rebound to double lead

He extended the lead to 2-0 with 6:48 remaining in the first after Malkin tipped a shot from Kessel on Raanta. Guentzel shot the rebound over the goal line.

With forwards Chris Kunitz (lower body) and Patric Hornqvist (concussion) injured, the Penguins recalled Guentzel from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Monday morning. He led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 17 points and seven goals in 16 games this season.

"[Guentzel is] a player that has good offensive instincts and a high hockey IQ," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's a playmaker. He's an offensive player. That's the strength of his game."

 
Goal of the game

Shortly after Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei was called for interference with 1:11 remaining in the second period, Miller benefited from a few bounces that led to New York's first lead. Hayes shot off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang's stick blade before it hit Malkin and Miller to deflect past Fleury.

Video: NYR@PIT: Miller deflects puck home for SHG

 
Save of the game

Raanta stopped Guentzel from scoring a hat trick 4:13 into the second period. Malkin set up Guentzel alone in front, but Raanta absorbed his snap shot.

Video: NYR@PIT: Raanta stops Guentzel's wrister

 
Highlight of the game

Guentzel scored on his first shot of his first shift early in the first period. After receiving a pass from Kessel, Guentzel darted into New York's zone and shot from the left circle. The puck snuck under Raanta's left pad.

Video: NYR@PIT: Guentzel scores on first shot of NHL career

 
Unsung moment of the game

Malkin seemed to have a path to the net while carrying the puck down the near wall early in the third period. Hayes slid to knock it off his stick and prevent a potential scoring chance with New York leading by one goal 4:38 into the third.

 
They said it

"I've been a goalie long enough that I know one goal here or there, it's not going to change your life. It's not going to change how you play hockey. I just tried to concentrate on the next shot and get the next save." -- Rangers goalie Antti Raanta

Video: NYR@PIT: Raanta denies Crosby's one-timer

 

"They play a frustrating style of game. They make you force stuff and they make you play a little passive, and that's what they did. We had a little fire in the second period and I just thought we did a good job of responding." -- Rangers forward J.T. Miller

 

"[The Rangers are] a very good team. We knew it going in. I think the game was a little bit closer than the score indicates, but certainly they're a good team. We have a lot of respect for them." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 
Need to know

The Penguins placed Kunitz on injured reserve Monday. Sullivan said he is week to week. … The Rangers claimed forward Matt Puempel off waivers from the Ottawa Senators on Monday. … New York is 5-0-1 in games following a loss this season.

 
What's next

Rangers: Host the Penguins on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, ROOT, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Rangers on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, ROOT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Rangers' scorching offense rolls past Penguins, 5-2

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