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Rangers roar back to beat Pens 3-2

by Brian Hunter
Trailing by a goal, with the final seconds of the third period ticking off the big scoreboard clock at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers had one final rush up ice, one more chance to come up with the goal that would force overtime and keep their hopes of a win alive.

Nikolai Zherdev wound up with the puck on the stick and with no margin for error, he didn't miss. Zherdev scored with 8.1 seconds left in regulation and Fredrik Sjostrom followed with the only goal of the shootout as the Rangers rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

"The win was huge," New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "It was a big game for us, and a statement to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins because they are a good team."

Lundqvist finished with 27 saves and denied all three Penguins in the tiebreaker, including Sidney Crosby in the final round. Lundqvist forced Crosby wide to the right of the net, and the Pittsburgh captain couldn't score from the tough angle, giving the Rangers the second point.

"That was classic Henrik right there. Poised and confident in the shootout," said Rangers coach Tom Renney, who was back behind the bench one night after having to leave during the second period in Columbus after he was struck on the head with an errant stick.

Crosby and Darryl Sydor scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves for the Penguins, who carried a 2-0 lead into the third period before the Rangers started their comeback.

''We were winning all game long,'' Fleury said. ''A goal with only eight seconds left, it's always a bad break.''

Markus Naslund got the Rangers on the board at 5:09 with a power-play goal, but the Penguins then held firm and Lundqvist was pulled in the final minute for an extra attacker. Crosby missed an empty net in the closing seconds, and the Rangers turned the puck back up ice, with Naslund springing Zherdev with a pass into the Penguins' zone. Zherdev, coming off a three-point effort against the Blue Jackets on Friday, wristed a shot from the right circle that sailed over Fleury's shoulder, tying the game and igniting the Garden crowd.

"That was the loudest I have ever heard this building," said Sjostrom, who tucked the puck inside the right post to begin the third round of the shootout. "It was just amazing for us to come back where we were just bombarding them with shots. And then to get the late one, and the place just erupted out there, it was one of the best moments I have had in here."

The Rangers improved to an NHL-best 8-2-1 and won their first meeting against the team that knocked them out of last season's playoffs. The Penguins won a second-round matchup in five games en route to the Eastern Conference championship before falling to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final.

It wouldn't come easy, as Sydor opened the scoring 9:04 into the opening period, just seconds after the Rangers successfully killed off Wade Redden's cross-checking penalty. The veteran defenseman was credited with his first of the season when he took a shot from the right point that caromed off the leg of the Rangers' Michal Rozsival in front and past Lundqvist.


Crosby, who was held without a goal in Pittsburgh's first five games, scored his third in the last four with 4:01 left in the second period. The Rangers missed a golden opportunity when Brooks Orpik and Mike Zigomanis each drew minor penalties with 3:24 remaining, but they couldn't beat Fleury during the lengthy 5-on-3 advantage.

But the Rangers kept at it, and even though they needed almost every second of those 60 minutes of regulation — not to mention overtime and a shootout — they pulled one out in the end.

"This should really develop the fiber of our team," Renney said. "The ability to press on and not quit really helps solidify the standard of play here."

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

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