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Offense Returns for Rangers in Pittsburgh

Blueshirts Top Penguins 5-2

by Matt Calamia @NYRangers /

The Rangers scored five unanswered goals to erase an early 2-0 deficit in a 5-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Derek Stepan each scored while Antti Raanta made 29 saves to improve to 5-0 on the season.

"We know a lot about this team. We've played them so much over the last handful of years," said Miller, who's shorthanded goal in the second period held up for the game-winner. "I think we were just on our heels a little too much at the start. A little too passive. I thought we were a lot more aggressive after that. When we did that we forced them into more turnovers and got a couple more lucky bounces. We did a really good job of defending after that as well."

After the debuting Jake Guentzel scored twice in the first period, the Blueshirts stormed back in the middle frame, starting with Nash's eighth of the season to cut Pittsburgh's lead in half. Nash attempted a cross-ice pass to Stepan, but it was blocked. No. 61 scooped up the loose puck and fired it through Marc-Andre Fleury for his eighth of the year.

Video: NYR@PIT: Miller deflects puck home for SHG

Grabner knotted things up with his 12th of the season by burying a Ryan McDonagh no-look pass from the corner. He is now tied for the League lead in goals.

Miller's shorthanded goal with 49 seconds left in the period capped off the scoring in the second. Kevin Hayes led the 2-on-1 and fired a pass through the air that banked off Evgeni Malkin before hitting Miller's arm and into the net. It was the team's third shorthanded goal of the season, which matched their total from last season.

"No didn't," Miller said when asked if he knew he'd scored. "I didn't even know it went off me. I just kind of ran into Malkin a little bit there. Obviously I thought Hayes scored there. I thought we did a good job down low in our end first. Saw they had a guy beat and Hayes yelled you got time. I just tried to bust up the ice. Fortunate bounce."

New York would finished the night off when Hayes redirected a McDonagh shot with his skate to put the Rangers up 4-2 at 12:46 of the third period. 

Stepan would ice the game with an empty net goal with 1:23 remaining.

After being held to just - for this team - four goals in their last four games, the four-goals Monday night was a return to form for the NHL's highest-scoring team. Five different players scored and four different Rangers had at least two points on the night.

While he didn't find the net, McDonagh had a pair of assists and finished the night with a career-best plus-5 rating in a team-high 22:54 of ice time. The plus-5 is the first time a Rangers defenseman finished with a plus-5 since Darius Kasparaitis on Dec. 26, 2003.

Video: NYR@PIT: Raanta denies Sheary with his blocker

After allowing the first goal of the night, Raanta was superb the rest of the way, allowing just one goal on the next 30 shots he faced to remain perfect on the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Raanta is the first Rangers goaltender who has earned a win in each of his first five decisions to start a season since Steve Weeks in 1983-84.

"There was still a lot of game left," Raanta said. "I have been a goalie long enough to know one goal here or there is not going to change your life. It's not going to change how you play hockey. I just tried to concentrate on the next shot, get the next save."

The Blueshirts return home Wednesday night to play the Penguins in the back-end of the home-and-home series.

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