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game recap

Penguins defeat Rangers for fourth consecutive victory

Kessel gets 700th NHL point with second-period goal that puts Pittsburgh ahead to stay

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Phil Kessel's go-ahead goal in the second period, his 700th NHL point, helped the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the New York Rangers 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

After Dominik Simon scored his first NHL goal at 13:15 of the second period to tie the game 2-2, Conor Sheary set up Kessel for a one-timer over Henrik Lundqvist's glove at 14:30 to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead. Kessel has eight points (three goals, five assists) during a four-game point streak.

 

[WATCH: All Rangers vs. Penguins highlights]

 

Kessel has not gone consecutive games without a point since Nov. 16-18. It was his 20th goal, the 10th consecutive season he's scored 20 or more.

Simon, who had the puck from his first goal in his locker stall following the game, said he was pleased Kessel's and his milestones facilitated Pittsburgh's comeback.

"We're both glad it helped the team to win," Simon said. "That's the first thing you think about now. All the teams are so tight in the standings. So, yeah, I'm really glad for it."

Video: NYR@PIT: Simon buries rebound for first NHL goal

Kessel got his 701st point with the primary assist on Sidney Crosby's 399th NHL goal, which made it 4-2 at 12:33 of the third period. Carl Hagelin scored into an empty net with 1:59 remaining to make it 5-2.

The Penguins (24-19-3) have won four straight games after going 4-8-0 in their previous 12. Pittsburgh, which matched its longest winning streak of the season, moved two points ahead of New York (22-17-5) into the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"We just stayed with it," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We liked our game. The first two periods, we had a significant amount of scoring chances. We couldn't seem to break the game open, but we felt like we were controlling play. … We liked a lot of the way the game was played from our standpoint."

Tristan Jarry made 26 saves for the Penguins in his fourth straight start and second in two days. He has allowed more than two goals once in his past eight appearances (4-2-0).

Lundqvist made 42 saves for the Rangers, who have lost three in a row and were beaten 7-2 at home by the New York Islanders on Saturday.

"I think the past month here, I think the level is just not high enough," Lundqvist said. "Almost get tired of yourself sitting here trying to find the right thing to say. It comes down to just going out and executing now. We talk about what we need to do. ... But enough talking, we just need to do it."

Patric Hornqvist gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 3:14 of the first period before Michael Grabner and Brendan Smith scored 3:49 apart to put the Rangers ahead 2-1. Hagelin had an assist on Hornqvist's goal for his 200th NHL point.

Grabner tied it 1-1 when he went forehand to backhand and beat Jarry on a breakaway at 15:17. Smith made it 2-1 when he scored his first goal of the season on a one-timer at 19:06.

"We definitely need to play better, there's no doubt," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We need to try and duplicate what we did in the first period tonight. We came out and felt we had good energy. Had a couple of good looks in the offensive zone, but we weren't able to sustain it."

Video: NYR@PIT: Crosby nets wrister off Kessel's pass

 

Goal of the game

Kessel's go-ahead goal at 14:30 of the second period.

Video: NYR@PIT: Kessel nets wrister for 700th NHL point

 

Save of the game

Jarry's save on Grabner at 4:31 of the third period.

Video: NYR@PIT: Jarry makes stick save on Grabner

 

Highlight of the game

Grabner's breakaway goal at 15:17 of the first period.

Video: NYR@PIT: Grabner steals puck, scores breakaway goal

 

They said it

"We're a fast team and we're playing fast right now. With that, you're going to generate shots. You're going to generate chances. You're going to wear other teams down as the game goes on." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

 

"Seems like we've been harping on the same things for a while. We have to stick together. Early on in the season, we had our struggles. We stuck together and we got out of it. We're not having the consistent hockey that we want to right now, but we believe in here and we're a team. We can't start to separate." -- Rangers forward Rick Nash

 

Need to know

Rangers forward Kevin Hayes did not play because of a contusion after playing 16:53 on Saturday. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh did not play because of back spasms. Vigneault said he's day to day. … Penguins goalie Matt Murray returned from tending to a personal family matter and skated on his own Sunday morning. He was unavailable against the Rangers, with Casey DeSmith backing up Jarry for a second straight day. Sullivan said Murray would travel with the Penguins on their upcoming three-game road trip to California.

 

What's next

Rangers: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, MSG, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Penguins top Rangers for fourth straight win

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