NEW YORK - Petr Prucha returned from exile to score his first goal of the season late in the third period and the New York Rangers went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday night.
Prucha had been a healthy scratch for the previous 10 games and turned down the Rangers' request over the weekend to go down to the AHL on a conditioning assignment. Confident he was fit enough to play, New York coach Tom Renney put him in the lineup and got rewarded.
Scott Gomez, who assisted on both Rangers goals, fired wide of the net but the rebound bounced off the end boards to Prucha for the putback at the right post that beat sprawling goalie Dany Sabourin with 5:57 left.
Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev and Fredrik Sjostrom had shootout goals for the Rangers, who allowed only defenceman Kris Letang to score in the tiebreaker. Henrik Lundqvist earned his NHL-leading 16th win and has given up only three goals in 19 shootout shots. New York is 7-1 in the tiebreaker.
Just as they did Oct. 25 in a shootout win, the Rangers erased Pittsburgh's 2-0 lead late. Zherdev got New York even then by scoring with 8.1 seconds left in regulation, and started this comeback with a second-period goal.
Mark Eaton scored for the first time in nearly three years, and Jordan Staal added a goal for Pittsburgh. The Penguins missed a chance to move within three points of the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers.
New York has won seven straight regular-season home games against the Penguins, who knocked the Rangers out in the second round of last season's playoffs.
Sidney Crosby set up Eaton's long-awaited 17th NHL goal and trails teammate Evgeni Malkin in the NHL scoring race by four points.
Eaton scored for the first time in 91 games, dating to a goal on April 6, 2006, and had Crosby's playmaking skills to thank. Crosby intercepted a pass by defenceman Dmitri Kalinin and carried the puck behind the net. Without breaking stride, Crosby found Eaton in front and fed him in the slot with 6:04 left in the first.
Until then, Crosby's action mostly involved a running feud with Rangers enforcer Colton Orr. It started less than three minutes in when Crosby reacted after the whistle to a hit. Not much came of that, but Eric Godard dropped the gloves with Orr after the ensuing faceoff.
Crosby engaged Orr again after a hit against the boards. Crosby jabbed at Orr with his stick as they skated toward centre ice until Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik hit Orr from behind with a shoulder. A penalty was called on Orpik, and then another when Orpik tripped Orr.
The Rangers couldn't take advantage, and had the long power play shortened when they were caught with too many men on the ice. It was during that 4-on-4 play that Eaton scored.
Pittsburgh doubled its lead 9:35 into the third period after weathering pressure in its zone.
Rob Scuderi's slap shot from the right point struck Staal and caromed past Lundqvist for his eighth goal. Lundqvist angrily swept the puck out of the crease.
The lead was cut in half just 1:21 later, ending the Rangers' long scoreless drought. Gomez's slap shot was tipped in front by Zherdev for his ninth goal and New York's first in 108 minutes, 52 seconds.
Notes: Eaton played in his 400th NHL game. ... The Rangers went 0-for-3 on the power play and have scored twice in 24 chances over six games.