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Rangers top Penguins 3-2 in OT

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
Olli Jokinen said earlier Friday that he "needed to have a really big game" -- so he went out and had one.

Jokinen's goal at 1:02 of overtime gave the injury-riddled New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Jokinen took a pass from Michal Rozsival in his own zone, raced down the right side and blasted a shot from inside the circle that went between the legs of defenseman Kris Letang and past Marc-Andre Fleury to end the Rangers' seven-game losing streak against the Penguins.

"I had all kinds of time," Jokinen said. "I tried to go high glove, and I didn't get it as high as I wanted, but it went in."

Jokinen came to the Rangers 12 days ago in a trade from Calgary and has been working to fit in. Coach John Tortorella said there's nothing like an overtime winner to speed that process.

"When new players come in and we're in the situation we've been in here for a while, trying to find our way, they want to come in and try to make a difference," he said. "I think he's been playing OK -- but as we've expressed to everybody, OK isn't good enough because we're not winning.

"Hopefully it will give him some confidence. You always want to be accepted when you come to a new group, and scoring an overtime goal is a nice avenue for him as far as joining in with the team."

By winning in their final regular-season visit to Mellon Arena, the Rangers moved within two points of the last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh fell two points behind first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

Sidney Crosby had both goals for the Penguins, giving him a career-high 41 this season. He's one behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the League lead. He tied the game at 2-2 by redirecting a slap pass from Sergei Gonchar into the net for a power-play goal at 3:53 of the third period.

The Rangers won despite losing two key players in the opening period. Top scorer Marian Gaborik, who missed Wednesday's game with a lacerated right leg, started but played just 4:02 before leaving. Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto also left with what the team called a "significant laceration" to his abdomen and also didn't return.

"I felt fortunate it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Del Zotto said after the game. He wasn't sure he will be able to play Sunday afternoon when the Rangers host Tampa Bay in their last game before the Olympic break.

Tortorella thought the injuries helped his team pull together after Pittsburgh controlled the opening period.

"I think they did rally around that," he said. "We just were a little tentative in the first period, playing against a pretty good hockey team. I don't think we were trying to make a difference. Then something like that happens, you lose two key guys, and you worry about what's going to happen to your hockey club. But they pulled together … we put some different line combinations together and kind of scrapped through. We got some big plays and big saves at key times, and we found a way to win."

Though the shots were just 12-11 Pittsburgh in the opening period, the Penguins had by far the better of the play and got the game's first goal at 6:42 when Bill Guerin worked the puck free along the left boards and fired a pass to the middle, where Crosby one-timed it past Henrik Lundqvist for his 40th goal.

Only some heroics by Lundqvist kept the Penguins from adding to their lead, but the Rangers regrouped in the second period and scored twice to take the lead.

"I think we all stepped it up," Jokinen said. "We had a short bench, but everyone battled hard. Good things happen when you work that hard, and usually you get rewarded."

Brandon Dubinsky tied it at 1:28, taking a no-look backhand passout from Chris Drury and one-timing a 10-footer past Brent Johnson. New York went ahead at 9:44 when Artem Anisimov carried into the Pittsburgh zone and slid the puck to Vaclav Prospal, who zipped a quick shot inside the left post for his fourth goal in four games.

Crosby said the Penguins lost something in their game after the opening 20 minutes.

"We knew they were going to come hard," Crosby said. "Our first (period) was pretty good. The second was not really the type of period we wanted, and then it's a 50-50 game in the third, and we lost it in overtime. I don't think we'll be too happy with that game."

Johnson stopped 20 of 22 shots before leaving 16:05 into the second period with what Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called a lower-body injury after a collision near his net. Fleury stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced, but took the loss.
 
"I thought we did play a strong first period," Bylsma said. "We dictated for a lot of the first period. But we gave them the opportunity to get the puck into the zone and get in on the forecheck. They created a turnover and got that first goal, and we weren't really able to raise our execution level (or) manage the puck. We didn't have the guys going in the right direction to get to our game."
 
Material from team media was used in this report

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