PITTSBURGH - It took Sidney Crosby almost 50 minutes and his team-high seventh shot to extend the longest active point streak in the NHL. It was worth the wait for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby scored the go-ahead goal with 10:04 remaining, his 15th straight game with a point, to help the Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday, Pittsburgh's fifth win in six games.
"He's a go-to guy," said Pittsburgh's Max Talbot, who had a goal and an assist. "He always wants those big goals, and he got it again. It's definitely two huge points for us."
Ruslan Fedotenko had a goal and two assists for the Penguins, who closed out a 10-1-2 March by improving to a 5-1-1 on their franchise-record, eight-game homestand.
Pittsburgh climbed three points ahead of the seventh-place Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Matt Cooke also scored for Pittsburgh, which improved to 14-2-3 under interim coach Dan Bylsma.
"I think as a team we've been playing well, and we just need to continue playing well in the last six games and into the playoffs," said Fedotenko, who had only three points in his previous 15 games.
"That's the most important thing, to get on kind of a hot streak going into the playoffs."
Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Nik Antropov scored for New York, which is 1-2-1 in its past four.
Crosby took a pass from Fedotenko while in the neutral zone and went up the ice with speed, splitting New York defencemen Wade Redden and Derek Morris and beating Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist shot to give Pittsburgh its third lead of the day.
"Feds just won his battle along the wall, and I was just able to pick up some speed through the neutral zone," said Crosby, who has at least a point in all 11 games since returning from a groin injury.
"The pass was right on my stick, and I was able to split the D and get a pretty good shot away."
The Penguins took an early 2-0 lead with goals 2:23 apart midway through the first period. Talbot scored his 11th 8:57 in shortly after a power play for Pittsburgh expired.
Cooke then got his 10th on a second rebound during a scrum in front of the net, slapping it over Lundqvist, who was sprawled out on the ice.
The Rangers scored twice in final 1:32 of the period to tie it.
Callahan got his 20th by scoring moments after a faceoff win by Scott Gomez and a setup by Sean Avery.
Dubinsky then tied it with 4.4 seconds left with a wraparound goal, his 10th.
Fedotenko gave Pittsburgh the lead again 4:14 into the second when he finished a two-on-one with Jordan Staal. The play was started when Pittsburgh defenceman Rob Scuderi "saved" a shot by Gomez that had gotten behind goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"We got contributions from all the players," Talbot said. "Guys like Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and Billy Guerin are always the leaders out there, but it's nice to get goals from third-and fourth-liners."
But the Rangers tied it again with 4:44 left in the period on Antropov's rebound goal, his 27th of the season and sixth in 12 games with New York.
"Certainly today we showed off our character battling from two-goal and one-goal deficits," Antropov said. "It was so close to tying this game up at the end of the game.
"We did a lot of good things, and we're going to build on it."
The Rangers, who killed nine Penguins power plays, were miffed that Colton Orr was given a five-minute penalty - and was ejected - for a hit on Mark Eaton into the boards early in the third.
The infraction, which was termed interference, left Eaton with a bloodied right eye.
The Penguins had 13:01 of power-play time during the game, while the Rangers had a man-advantage for only 5:56.
"I guess the thing that's frustrating is two teams with the type of (playoff) position we're in this time of year, I just hope that we allow the teams to make the difference, to determine the results," New York coach John Tortorella said.
"I'll leave it at that."
Notes: Counting the playoffs, Pittsburgh is 13-0-2 in its past 15 home games against the Rangers. ... The home team won all six games in the season series. ... Antropov has five goals this season against Pittsburgh, more than any other team. ... Avery has nine points in 12 games since rejoining the Rangers early this month.