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Henrik Lundqvist blanks Penguins in 3-0 win for Rangers

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 10:43 PM

Henrik Ludnqvist turns away 34 shots on goal for his first shutout since Nov. 23.Gene J. Puskar/AP

Henrik Ludnqvist turns away 34 shots on goal for his first shutout since Nov. 23.

PITTSBURGH – Henrik Lundqvist starred in a building where he always seems to stand tall, and the Rangers got contributions from several unlikely sources. This is when Alain Vigneault’s Blueshirts become most dangerous – when everyone gets involved.

Lundqvist blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-0, snapping all three of Sidney Crosby’s scoring streaks – seven straight games with a goal, 11 straight with a point, and nine straight at CONSOL Energy Center with a tally.

Meanwhile, third-line center Kevin Hayes scored his first goal in 13 games in the first period, fourth-line Dominic Moore netted his first goal in 16 games in the third, and fourth-line right wing Tanner Glass assisted for his first point in 20 games on Hayes’ goal. Jesper Fast added an empty-netter late in the third.

Lundqvist earned his first shutout since Nov. 23 and the team’s fourth of the season against a hot Penguins team that had won six of its last seven, coached by John Tortorella’s former Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan and featuring former Ranger speedster Carl Hagelin.

Pittsburgh was without center Evgeni Malkin, but the Rangers beat the Pens and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury despite the absence of two of their top players, captain Ryan McDonagh (concussion) and forward Rick Nash (left leg bone bruise), neither of whom even made the trip.

Incredibly, though, the Rangers have allowed just one even strength goal in their eight-and-a-half periods since McDonagh left last Saturday’s game in Philadelphia during the first period. That happened despite the Penguins severely outshooting the Rangers, who blocked shots and got Lundqvist to clean up the rset.

The struggling penalty kill, which entered tied for 25th overall and dead-last 30th on the road, went 2-for-2 including a huge kill in the third period after a bad interference call against Chris Kreider.

Lundqvist appeared to possibly tweak something stopping a Ben Lovejoy shot midway through the third period, and J.T. Miller seemed shaken by a late collision with Matt Cullen, but both players finished the game.

The second-place Rangers (31-18-5, 67 points) have won four straight for the first time since their nine-game winning streak from Oct. 25-Nov. 15. The Penguins (27-19-7, 61 points) sit in fourth, in a see-saw for third place with the Islanders (62), with only games in hand the on the Devils (61).

The Rangers and Penguins will meet three more times on March 3, 13 and 27, and the Blueshirts are well aware the implications for playoff positioning and qualification.

Pittsburgh outshot the Rangers 21-13 through two periods but still trailed, 1-0. Conor Sheary’s break-in juke on Lundqvist hit the cross-bar, and Lundqvist made a huge save with his blocker on dynamic Pens defenseman Kris Letang with about minute to play in the second.

Hayes opened scoring at 8:34 of the first. The Rangers turned the puck over in droves at the start and finish of the period, but after an unsuccessful power play, Keith Yandle hit Glass with a stretch pass the left wing, and Glass’ initial shot created a rebound that Hayes skillfully dragged across the slot to finish into an open net.

Fleury had robbed Oscar Lindberg in the slot earlier. The Penguins simply couldn’t finish off chances created by several turnovers from Yandle, Marc Staal and Dan Boyle.

In his ninth straight start, Lundqvist tied Mike Richter for the most all-time appearances by a goaltender in Rangers history with 666. He also has started 22 of the team’s last 23 games as Vigneault seeks to get both his goalie and his team on solid footing.

The coach said Antti Raanta’s light load was not due to any change to the original January plan and that the backup would start about one game per week the rest of this month. So there is a good chance Raanta will start the next game, Friday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings.


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