Penguins Repel Rangers Rallies and Regain Playoff Position

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins survived a four-minute penalty kill and went on the hunt against the Rangers.

Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each had two goals, and the Penguins climbed back into playoff position with a 6-5 victory on Sunday.

Defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Brian Dumoulin also scored for the Penguins (31-21-7), who leapfrogged Carolina for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

“At the beginning of the third, getting that kill, it gave us such a boost,” Letang said. “And then we got a bunch of goals.”

Mats Zuccarello had two goals, and Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad scored over the game’s final 5 minutes 46 seconds for the Rangers, who could not complete a rally from a 6-3 hole after erasing a 3-1 deficit and tying the score late in the second period.

The Rangers were not able to score during a four-minute power play spanning the second intermission. It was brought about by Sidney Crosby’s double minor for high sticking with 13 seconds left in the period.

“We got demoralized,” Rangers Coach David Quinn said, “and they got a new set of energy and a new lift, and the whole complexion of the game changed.”

Forty-nine seconds after the double minor expired, Letang took a feed from Crosby and beat goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Malkin then scored twice in 2:31, finishing with four goals in two games since serving a one-game suspension for a stick-swinging episode.

“He tends to be a guy who builds confidence when he scores,” Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan said of Malkin, “and so I think that bodes well for us and for him.”

Crosby had three assists, for a total of 11 points in five games for the Penguins, who had won just seven of their previous 17 games and had been in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2005-6.

Letang opened the scoring 16:11 into the game. He has 15 goals, one off the career high he set in 2015-16.

Zuccarello’s goals were his 10th and 11th, each tying the score. Ryan Strome also scored for the Rangers, who had won three of their previous five. The Rangers have scored 11 goals over two games for the first time this season after winning by 6-2 at Buffalo on Friday.

Zibanejad added an assist, and Chris Kreider had two assists, for a total of 58 points for the Rangers’ top line, consisting of those two and Zuccarello, in their past 14 games.

“Except for those five or six minutes there in the third, I think we played a good game,” Zuccarello said, adding: “It could’ve gone either way. It’s hard when they score three right away — boom, boom, boom.”

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