PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins used a late surge in a contentious second period to defeat the New York Rangers 4-1 at Consol Energy Center on Thursday.
Following a slow first period, the crowd ignited 6:17 into the second period when Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist dropped his stick and shoved the net off its moorings. Lundqvist was visibly upset after a collision with Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and was called for delay of game, giving Pittsburgh a power play that Penguins forward Phil Kessel cut short with a slashing call 1:09 later.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he doesn't believe Lundqvist's injury to be serious. Lundqvist experienced neck spasms stemming from the McDonagh collision, which caused New York to pull him following the second. Vigneault said he thinks Lundqvist shoved the net in an attempt to get the referee's attention to inform him of his injury.
"I don't know if the signals didn't cross or whatever, but obviously the referee didn't pick up on it," Vigneault said. "And he wasn't feeling right at that time, so he decided to stay in but couldn't finish the game. … I didn't know [Lundqvist was hurt]. Nobody knew. I don't think [Lundqvist] made it very clear to the referee either, at that time. So, we knew that when we came in from the second that he was having issues with his neck there, but at that time, we didn't."
Chris Kreider snuck a wrist shot between goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker and the right post to give New York (37-21-6) a 1-0 lead with 3:10 remaining in the second.
Video: NYR@PIT: Crosby finishes one-handed bank shot
But Pittsburgh (33-22-8) reenergized the crowd 57 seconds later, scoring three goals in 1:39 after failing to score in the previous 97:47 against Lundqvist this season.
Sidney Crosby began the scoring when he sent a wrist shot off the end boards that bounced in front of Lundqvist, allowing Crosby to reach back with one hand when he drifted by the net and hooked a shot off of Lundqvist's left leg and into the net with 2:13 left in the period. The goal was Crosby's 26th of the season.
"I think being down probably gave us a little bit of jump and urgency," Crosby said. "Each game kind of tells its own story. ... Whether we got one in the past [against Lundqvist] or three tonight, I think we're confident we can score goals if we do the right things."
Video: NYR@PIT: Malkin puts the Penguins ahead in the 2nd
Evgeni Malkin scored 21 seconds later, his 25th, to put the Penguins up 2-1. With Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle in the penalty box for interference, Patric Hornqvist scored in a third consecutive game for a 3-1 lead with 34 seconds remaining in the second.
"We tried to play a solid game and go to the net," Malkin said. "It's like the playoffs. … It's a team win and it's very important for me."
Goalie Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist (19 saves) at the start of the third period. Lundqvist was not on the Rangers bench to start the period.
"I checked on him a couple times. He seemed alright," McDonagh said. "But obviously it's intense and you don't really know what's going on initially when contact happens, so I obviously haven't heard any update or anything. … I'm not 100 percent sure what was going on there, but obviously he didn't feel comfortable about something. So, it's better to be safe there than sorry."
Video: NYR@PIT: Hornqvist deflects Kessel's shot for PPG
Kessel scored his 20th goal of the season into an empty net to push the Penguins' lead to 4-1 with 2:04 remaining in the third period.
A physical first period produced few offensive opportunities. Pittsburgh had the best scoring chance when forwards Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino had a 2-on-1 but were unable to solve Lundqvist.
After defenseman Olli Maatta found Rust streaking into the Rangers zone past Derek Stepan, Rust sent a cross-ice pass through a recovering Dylan McIlrath and onto Bonino's tape. Bonino got a wrist shot off, but Lundqvist stretched to his right and made a blocker save to keep the game scoreless with 8:38 remaining in the first.
Video: NYR@PIT: Lundqvist seeks stoppage, dislodges net
Penguins forward Kevin Porter left the game late in the first period and did not return after a collision with Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg caused him to fall awkwardly with his right leg pinned back against the boards.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Porter sustained a lower-body injury and the team may have an update on his status on Friday.
After being shut out by New York at home on Feb. 10, Sullivan said he was pleased with how Pittsburgh responded in the second period.
"We could sense some of the frustration on the bench and we just talked about making sure we that we respond the right way," Sullivan said. "We just had to make sure that we were taking what the game gives us and that we didn't allow our frustration to become a distraction."
Video: Penguins use big 2nd period to defeat Rangers