The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 19, 2013

Penguins skate past Rangers in shootout win

NEW YORK — Brandon Sutter scored in the third period and then rescued the Penguins with the only goal of the shootout to lift Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sutter gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead just 1:01 after Pascal Dupuis snapped a 1-1 tie, but Pittsburgh couldn’t hold the edge. It took until the fifth round of the shootout for the deadlock to be broken for good, and the Penguins skated off with their fifth straight victory.

Dupuis gave the Penguins their second lead of the night, off a feed from Sidney Crosby at 5:25, and Sutter used a strong individual effort to make it 3-1 at 6:26. Chris Kunitz had a goal and assist, Crosby had two assists to increase his NHL-leading points total 49, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots.

Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard rallied the Rangers late with goals 5:31 apart to tie it with only 1:46 left in regulation.

Henrik Lundqvist got it to overtime and withstood a hard hit from Kunitz, who bowled him over in the extra session – striking the goalie in the head and taking a penalty for interference.

The Rangers, however, couldn’t take advantage of that power play as they did on Brassard’s tying goal. New York earned a standings point with its second straight shootout after not being forced to that tiebreaker all season.

Zuccarello started the comeback when he shoved in a rebound of defenseman John Moore’s shot that trickled between Marc-Andre Fleury’s pads into the crease at 12:43. Brassard made it 3-3 when he ripped a shot from the bottom of the left circle into the top right corner of the net. It came 57 seconds after Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen went off for high-sticking.

Carl Hagelin scored for New York in the second period, and Lundqvist made 30 saves through overtime in his seventh straight start, but the Rangers dropped to 1-3-2 on their team-record, nine-game homestand. New York was looking to win two straight, building off a shootout victory over Calgary on Sunday.

Pittsburgh was without star center Evgeni Malkin, who missed his second straight game with a leg injury that will force him to also sit out Thursday against Minnesota.

The Penguins stayed hot despite also missing injured defensemen Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin, and Brooks Orpik, and suspended defenseman Deryk Engelland, who received a five-game ban Wednesday. Pittsburgh is 10-1-1 in its last 12.

The Rangers fell to 2-14-1 when they allow the first goal.

Hagelin, who had gone eight games without a goal before he scored Sunday, netted a highlight-reel tally to tie it 1-1 with 4:25 left in the second period. He raced past Simon Despres, shook off a pair of slashes from the defenseman that would’ve drawn a penalty, then shifted from forehand to backhand before putting the puck past Fleury for his seventh goal.

Pittsburgh had taken a 1-0 lead on its second power play of the period and the game 2:51 earlier on Kunitz’s 18th goal and team-leading ninth with a man advantage.

NOTES: Penguins D Philip Samuelsson played his second NHL game, two nights after making his debut. His father, Ulf, is a Rangers assistant coach. ... Kunitz has points in 10 of 12 games: seven goals and six assists. ... Moore had two assists to increase his season point total to seven.

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