Rapid Reaction: Penguins 5, Rangers 2

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
9:36
PM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

At a glance: With a 5-2 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Penguins proved they very well may be the team to beat in the East.

Pittsburgh dominated New York in Sidney Crosby's big comeback to keep their winning streak alive -- a staggering 10 games -- and put the Rangers' Atlantic Division lead in peril. Playing for the first time since Dec. 5, Crosby recorded an assist and finished with a plus-3 rating while linemate Matt Cooke tallied a pair of goals. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang also made a dazzling comeback, posting a plus-5 rating in his first game since Feb. 29.

Crosby's back: After missing 40 straight games, Crosby returned to action, recording an assist on Chris Kunitz's third-period goal for his first point in more than three months. The Pittsburgh captain, booed by fans throughout the game, played primarily between Cooke and Tyler Kennedy and manned the point on the Penguins' vaunted first power-play unit.

Cooke-y Monster: Cooke upstaging Sid the Kid? Crosby's linemate tallied twice for his third multi-goal game of the season to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead before Marian Gaborik's second-period marker that pulled the Rangers within one goal.

Top-line wonder: In the trio's second game together, the Rangers' top line of Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik put together another striking performance, combining for six points. Recording his fourth point in less than four periods, Hagelin tied the game at 1 in the first period. The Swedish rookie swiped at a rebound on a scramble up front at 13:36 for his second goal in as many games.

At 14:32 of the second, Gaborik whittled the Penguins' lead 3-2 at 14:32 of the second with his 35th goal of the season as he and Richards extended their point streak to four games and five games, respectively. The three players combined for nine points in the team's 4-2 win over Carolina Tuesday.

Anisimov hurt: Already without captain Ryan Callahan (foot) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (hip), the Rangers lost another one of their top-six forwards as Artem Anisimov left the game with an unspecified injury in the second period.

Second straight: With starter Henrik Lundqvist out while still recovering from the flu, goaltender Martin Biron made his second straight start for the first time this season. Chad Johnson was recalled from the AHL’s Connecticut Whale to back up Biron.

Up Next: Rangers vs. Avalanche, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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