NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins need someone to step up in the absence of Evgeni Malkin; that production came from an unlikely source Sunday when rookie Conor Sheary had two goals in a 5-3 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Malkin will miss 6-8 weeks because of an upper-body injury, and Sheary did his best impression of the all-star center. Sheary, who had three goals and five points in 29 games, scored twice in the second period for Pittsburgh, which blew three-one goal leads before holding on for the win.
Matt Cullen scored the go-ahead goal at 11:09 of the third period and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 28 saves as the Penguins (36-24-8) maintained their hold on one of the wild cards into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Video: PIT@NYR: Cullen's feed finds the net for a 4-3 lead
Sheary gave them a 2-1 lead when he tipped in a shot from Justin Schultz at 7:30, but the lead didn't last long. Rangers center Derick Brassard who did not play Saturday because of the flu, scored on the power play to tie the game 2-2 at 8:59.
"We need a lot of guys to get some secondary scoring and to get some more minutes when a guy like [Malkin] goes down," Sheary said. "Obviously it's unfortunate for a team as a whole losing a player like that, but it's good for younger guys and guys who don't get that many minutes."
Sheary broke the tie again at 15:55 on a nice passing play with linemates Eric Fehr and Tom Kuhnhackl to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
Video: PIT@NYR: Sheary records first career two-goal game
"[Sheary] is a terrific kid," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He goes about his business, he works hard, he comes to the rink and does as he's told, and it's just great to see a kid like that get rewarded. He's a good hockey player."
Cullen put the Penguins in front for good with a bit of puck luck. He was behind the net and slipped, but threw the puck in front where it hit off Rangers defenseman Marc Staal's skate and went past Henrik Lundqvist, who made 28 saves. Sidney Crosby scored his 29th goal, an empty-netter with 38 seconds remaining.
"We got on the puck and were kind of able to possess the puck down low and I kind of got tripped up front and tried to make a play out front and sometimes you get those lucky bounces," said Cullen, who scored his 11th of the season. "You will take every one."
Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring for the Penguins on a power play at 11:56 of the first period before the Rangers tied the game 1-1 at 18:06 when Derek Stepan made a nice pass to Chris Kreider at the side of the net. Kreider tapped the puck past Fleury.
"That's kind of the playoff mindset. … No one's going away at this point in the season," Cullen said. "You have to keep your foot on the gas. I was really proud of the guys the way we battled, especially with losing [Malkin]. That's a big response for us"
Video: PIT@NYR: McDonagh wraps around to even the game at 3
New York outshot Pittsburgh 19-13 in the first period but had eight shots in the final two periods.
"There's definitely some concern with how we played in the second and the third, after a real strong first period where I thought that, other than the play we had, some real good looks," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We are playing north-south, real quick. We are getting pucks deep and making them work, and in the second and third, we start doing the things that weren't needed to have success on the ice. We turned some pucks over, fed their transition, and they just kept coming on us and made us pay."
Ryan McDonagh scored on a wraparound at 5:04 of the third period to tie the game for the third time, at 3-3. Less than a minute later, Rick Nash had a chance to give the Rangers their first lead of the game on a breakaway but was stopped by Fleury.
"Against a skilled team with their firepower, you can't give them too many looks and they made us pay. Unfortunate bounces or not, they were creating some time in our zone," McDonagh said. "I'm really just frustrated we can't find a way to get a point out of that game -- hopefully two, but if not, one."
Video: PIT@NYR: Fleury stones Nash to preserve tie
The Rangers (39-22-7), who lost 3-2 in overtime Saturday to the Detroit Red Wings, hadn't dropped back-to-back games since Dec. 18-20.
"It's tough no matter which way you lose, if you get smoked or if you lose in the last second. Obviously we are after wins and points," canter Eric Staal said. "They got two [goals] from behind the net that were lucky bounces; that's sometimes how the game goes. So we have to pick ourselves up and have a big week out West."
The Rangers begin a three-game, four-day California road trip Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks before traveling to play the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Rangers forward Tanner Glass missed the game with an upper-body injury.
Video: Sheary, Cullen lead Penguins past Rangers, 5-3