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Pens get five in third period to rout Rangers 6-2

by Brian Compton
Considering it was 1-1 after 40 minutes of play, not a soul inside Mellon Arena could have expected the Pittsburgh Penguins to blow out the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

But they did.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists during a five-goal third period, as the Pens skated away with a 6-2 victory against the Blueshirts. It marked Pittsburgh's second win over New York on home ice in the last 10 days.

"In a 1-1 game, you expect it to end pretty close," Crosby said. "We did a great job there."

The Pens -- who entered the All-Star break in 10th place in the Eastern Conference -- have now won four of their last six games. They pelted a stunned Henrik Lundqvist with 16 shots in the third period and beat him five times.

"I tried to stay focused," Lundqvist said. "It just happened so fast. I got away from the things that I have to do -- small things that make a big difference for me and my game. I don't know what happened. I just have to let this one go. Right now, I could destroy this locker room."

Crosby picked up assists Kris Letang's pair of goals and Petr Sykora's 19th tally, which came via the power play at 10:01. Crosby then picked up his 18th goal on a gorgeous backhand shot with 1:40 remaining to round out the scoring.

''I just tried to turn and fire it,'' Crosby said. ''I thought it might surprise him a little bit.''

The Rangers -- who are 5-2-1 over their last eight games -- outshot Pittsburgh 26-17 over the first two periods. They held a 34-33 edge when the final horn sounded.

"I think we took our foot off the pedal," New York defenseman Paul Mara said. "The first two periods, we played extremely well. We did what we need to do to win. The wheels fell off in the third. It's unacceptable. It's a tough loss to swallow."

The Blueshirts grabbed an early 1-0 lead as Nikolai Zherdev scored just 2:24 into the game, but Sykora tied it just over four minutes later. Marc-Andre Fleury preserved the tie my making 18 of his 32 saves in the second period.

That gave the Penguins a chance to win it in the third -- and they grabbed it.

Jordan Staal gave Pittsburgh the lead with his 15th goal at 1:11 of the third. With control of the puck behind the Rangers' net, Staal attempted a pass to Chris Minard that failed to connect but banked off the left skate of Lundqvist and into the net. Letang and Sykora followed with tallies of their own to give the Pens a 4-1 lead.

''It's great for the confidence of the team,'' Letang said. ''I know we've been struggling a little bit before the break, so it was just important to win this game at home, especially against a hard division team. It's good for everyone; we've got to build on that for games in the future.''

Marc Staal briefly kept the Rangers in the game with a pretty wrist shot from the left circle at 13:55, but Letang restored Pittsburgh's three-goal lead before Crosby put the game away.

'We did a great job in the third,'' Crosby said. "We wanted to make sure that we started the period well and we got the next goal."

While the whole team struggled in the third, Lundqvist was willing to put the blame squarely on his shoulders.

"As a team we played great in the first two," Lundqvist said. "I just lost my game in the third, totally. That's definitely not good enough. I made a couple of mistakes. I didn't stop the puck in the third. I'm a little upset with myself right now."

Rangers coach Tom Renney, whose team visits conference-leading Boston on Saturday afternoon, saw things a bit differently.

"I tried to stay focused. It just happened so fast. I got away from the things that I have to do -- small things that make a big difference for me and my game. I don't know what happened. I just have to let this one go. Right now, I could destroy this locker room." -- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
"What he's doing is taking the responsibility for himself, and I admire that," Renney said. "But there's 18 skaters that better step up and do the same thing. The coaching staff might want to share that responsibility, as well. Him taking it upon himself is B.S., quite honestly. He doesn't need to that. He's a great goaltender and a great teammate. He's one of the best goaltenders in the League. The rest of us have to step up and understand that it's a 60-minute contest."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

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