Rangers snap six-game losing streak
Ryan Callahan had two goals and an assist for the New York Rangers, who broke out of their offensive doldrums and snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the battered Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
After falling behind 2-0 only 5:06 in, the Rangers tied it before the first intermission. They busted out in the second period – while recording 16 shots – on goals by Vinny Prospal, Callahan, and Artem Anisimov to build a three-goal lead. That was enough to end New York’s 0-5-1 skid that put the team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The Rangers hadn’t won since beating Washington 2-1 in a shootout on Jan. 24.
New York’s rally was sparked by coach John Tortorella’s timeout called after Nick Johnson’s second NHL goal put Pittsburgh ahead by two. Hard-hitting Deryk Engelland gave the Penguins a 1-0 edge at 2:06.
Brett Sterling brought Pittsburgh within 5-3 with a power-play goal 5:12 into the third, but the Penguins, who failed to capitalize on a double high-sticking penalty to Michael Sauer later in the period, have lost four of five following a five-game winning streak.
New York hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game since beating Toronto 7-0 on Jan. 19. The Rangers scored only 12 goals during the losing streak, but found their touch against Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The injury-depleted Penguins, who are missing captain Sidney Crosby and fellow All-Star Evgeni Malkin along with several other key players, played for the first time since Friday night’s 9-3 loss to the New York Islanders that featured a pair of brawls.
Pittsburgh was also without Matt Cooke and Eric Godard, who are serving suspensions. Godard received a 10-game ban from the NHL on Saturday because he left the bench Friday night to join a fight.
That game produced 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors and 20 misconducts.
Upset with the supplemental penalties handed out by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, that included a $100,000 fine to the Islanders, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux lashed out at the league.
”Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty,” the Hall of Famer said. ”It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.”
Lemieux, who bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 and ended his playing career during the 2005-06 season, said the sanctions weren’t nearly enough.
”The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed,” he said. ”We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.
”If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to rethink whether I want to be a part of it.”
His team responded well early, and it appeared as though the Rangers were headed for another loss. New York hadn’t earned a point in a game since a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 1 after the Rangers squandered a two-goal lead. Before Sunday, that was the last time the Rangers went ahead by two on anyone.
Callahan scored the first of the Rangers’ season-high three power-play goals at 9:20 of the first. Brian Boyle had started the comeback at 5:43, 37 seconds after Tortorella’s timeout.
New York broke it open in the second, starting with Prospal’s second goal in five games after returning from knee surgery. Callahan made it 4-2 at 11:04 during the first half of a double high-sticking penalty to Sterling.
Anisimov pushed the edge to three with another power-play goal with 4:37 left in the second.
Notes: The Penguins have two games left on a four-game trip and will play seven of the next nine on the road. … New York LW Wojtek Wolski didn’t play in the third period because of an undisclosed injury. … Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and won at home for the first time since Jan. 19. Fleury also made 26 saves.