The Penguins endured more than their share of late-game nightmares last season, losing eight games in overtime, six games in shootouts and a few others in the waning moments of regulation. That only made Thursday’s game in New York against the Rangers even sweeter.
Sidney Crosby scored his second goal of the season with 3.3 seconds to play, lifting the Penguins past the Rangers, 6-5, in their first road game of the young season. Crosby added three assists for his fourth career four-point night – and third in his last nine games dating to last season – as Pittsburgh rebounded from its 2-0 home loss to Detroit last Saturday.
Crosby was stationed in the right circle when he threw a pass for Michel Ouellet at the left post. But the pass caromed off the left skate of Aaron Ward and past goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to give the Penguins the victory.
Ryan Whitney delivered the first two-goal game of his NHL career, and Jordan Staal and Kris Letang both scored their first NHL goals six minutes apart in a frenetic second period that ended with the score tied, 3-3.
The Penguins’ power play, 0-for-8 coming into the game, exploded for four goals on nine chances, including Crosby’s game-winner. That came with Jaromir Jagr in the penalty box for hooking. The Rangers converted three of their nine power-play chances – the first power-play goals allowed by Pittsburgh this season – and fired 42 shots at Marc-Andre Fleury.
After a scoreless first period in which the Rangers outshot the Penguins, 11-1, over the final 14 minutes, the Penguins grabbed the first lead of the night on Staal’s goal. Killing a penalty to Whitney, Staal deflected a pass from the right wing boards toward the Pittsburgh blue line and then outraced defenseman Michal Rozsival and beat Lundqvist with a forehand wrist shot at 3:23.
Staal’s unassisted goal was the first short-handed goal of the season for Pittsburgh.
But the Rangers stole the momentum away almost immediately. Jagr scored his second goal of the season at 4:45 on a beautiful wrist shot from the high slot, and 1:50 later Matt Cullen scored his second of the season to give the Rangers their first lead of the night.
Letang, however, tied it on the power play at 9:15 when he took a Crosby pass and ripped a wrist shot over Lundqvist’s glove from the left circle. Adam Hall restored the Rangers’ lead at 15:08 on the power play, but Ouellet’s second goal of the season tied it at 15:55.
Whitney converted a Crosby pass on the power play at 1:01 of the third period to put the Penguins ahead, 4-3, but Michal Nylander tied it at 6:09 during a two-man advantage for the Rangers. New York used consecutive faceoff wins to set the stage for the goal, with Nylander converting Petr Prucha’s centering pass.
Whitney’s second goal of the night put the Penguins ahead, 5-4, just 53 seconds later. Former Ranger Dominic Moore’s nifty pass to Colby Armstrong on the left wing created a two-on-one break, and Armstrong’s perfect pass to Whitney wound up behind Lundqvist.
Brendan Shanahan scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season on the power play at 11:12 for the Rangers, but the Penguins on this night found a way to win the game in the dying seconds.