PITTSBURGH – Brad Richards' goal in the third round of the shootout Friday night gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory and handed the Pittsburgh Penguins their first loss in the tiebreaker in exactly two years.
Mats Zuccarello scored in the second round of the shootout for the Rangers. Evgeni Malkin matched that by beating Henrik Lundqvist to start the third round, but Richards zipped a wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury to end Pittsburgh's nine-game winning streak in the tiebreaker. The Penguins hadn't lost a shootout since Feb. 7, 2012, when the Montreal Canadiens beat them 3-2.
The Rangers were less than three minutes away from winning in regulation before Penguins forward James Neal tied the game with 2:56 remaining. Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta won the puck out of the corner and slid a pass to Neal to the left of the net. Neal wristed a shot past Lundqvist for his 20th goal of the season.
The Rangers broke a 2-2 tie 9:24 into the third period. Dan Girardi’s shot ricocheted off the end boards; Benoit Pouliot collected the puck and tucked it in between Fleury’s right pad and the left post for his 11th goal of the season and second of the game.
Despite allowing more than one goal for the first time in three starts, Lundqvist made 26 saves to extend his season-high winning streak to five games. The Rangers (32-24-3) have won five of six and reached the Olympic break second in the Metropolitan Division, though they trail Pittsburgh (40-15-3) by 16 points.
After the first period ended 1-1, New York regained a one-goal lead 34 seconds into the second.
With Neal in the penalty box for interference, Girardi scored off of a faceoff win by Derick Brassard, snapping a shot past Fleury four seconds into the power play. It was the first power-play goal allowed by Pittsburgh in nine home games. The Penguins had killed 27 consecutive power plays at Consol Energy Center. Fleury faced 32 shots through two periods, seven more than he saw in each of his two previous starts. He finished with 38 saves.
The Penguins answered with a power-play goal at 8:29. Malkin took a pass from Matt Niskanen and skated to the right edge of the right circle before sending a pass to Neal near the circle’s left edge. Neal sent a return feed to Malkin, who one-timed a slap shot past Lundqvist for his 18th goal of the season.
Malkin and Neal each extended their point streaks to five games. Pittsburgh’s top-ranked power-play unit (24.9 percent entering Friday) converted on two of its four chances.
The first period followed a similar script; New York scored an early goal and the Penguins answered with a power-play goal to tie the game midway through the period.
Pouliot got the Rangers off to a quick start with a goal 1:04 into the game. Defenseman Marc Staal sent a shot from the point into the crease, where Zuccarello collected the rebound and tried to wrap it around the left side of the net. The puck was wedged between the left post and Fleury’s skate until Pouliot poked it past the goal line.
Maatta tied it at 11:43 with his first career power-play goal. Defenseman Paul Martin slapped a shot into traffic in front of Lundqvist and Jussi Jokinen deflected the puck to the right of the net. It slid past Malkin to Crosby, who backhanded a shot on Lundqvist. Maatta finished the play by backhanding the rebound into the back of the net.