The Penguins' Sidney Crosby reaches to shoot the puck against the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh in the first period Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins' Patric Hornqvist celebrates a goal by Sidney Crosby against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the second period Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
The Rangers' Oscar Lindberg is upended against the Penguins' Ian Cole and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins left winger Carl Hagelin reaches for the puck in front of Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle in the first period Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates a goal by Patric Hornqvist against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the second period Thursday.
The Penguins' Tom Kuhnhackl and the Rangers' Dylan McIlrath collide along the boards in the first period.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
You know what’s rare?
Seeing New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who rarely looks even a little rattled, completely lose his composure, undergo a total meltdown on the ice.
You know what’s even more rare?
Seeing the Penguins score two goals in 21 seconds — and three in 99 — against Lundqvist as they did in a 4-1 victory Thursday night against the Rangers at Consol Energy Center.
Sidney Crosby’s goal from behind the goal line at 17:47 of the second period was the first the Penguins got against Lundqvist in nearly five periods this season.
Before the second intermission arrived, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist had deposited pucks behind him, too.
And enraged as Lundqvist had been just over six minutes into the second, when he violently shoved his net off its moorings after teammate Ryan McDonagh skated into him while chasing after Hornqvist, he had to be even more flustered after the Penguins scorched him for those three quick goals.
Especially when they hadn’t beaten him even once in the previous 97 minutes, 46 seconds.
Lundqvist’s worknight ended after two periods. Antti Raatta replaced him for the third, when Phil Kessel closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal.
Precisely how Lundqvist felt about his evening wasn’t clear, because he did not speak with reporters after the game.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, however, said Lundqvist was pulled because he was having neck spasms, presumably stemming from when McDonagh plowed into him.
Seconds after that contact, Lundqvist forcefully dislodged his net in an attempt, Vigneault suggested, to make it clear to the officials that he was not feeling well.
The officials noticed, and assessed him a delay-of-game minor. The Penguins noticed, too, and weren’t especially sympathetic.
“I think that’s baby stuff,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “I get mad. I get disturbed. I’ll smash my stick, but I wouldn’t push the net over and stop play and get a penalty.”
Left winger Carl Hagelin, formerly of the Rangers, didn’t dispute that Lundqvist lost his cool, but suggested it wasn’t entirely unreasonable.
“He’s a competitive guy,” Hagelin said. “Obviously, he lost his composure there, and it was good for us.”
Good enough to help the Penguins win for the fourth time in their past six games, raising their record to 33-22-8.
They hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and trail Detroit, which has the first wild card, by one point.
The Penguins played most of the game without fourth-line forward Kevin Porter, who appeared to injure his right leg when New York’s Viktor Stalberg knocked him into the boards from behind late in the opening period.
Coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Porter was undergoing testing, but that the Penguins likely will have news about him today. Porter left long before either team scored, as New York’s Chris Kreider beat Fleury from below the left dot at 16:50 of the second to break a scoreless tie.
Given Lundqvist’s history against the Penguins, that could have been an insurmountable lead, but Crosby countered just 57 seconds later and Evgeni Malkin scored the winner 21 seconds after that, punching in a rebound from inside the right circle.
Hornqvist capped the Penguins’ surge by steering a Kessel feed by Lundqvist, and the Penguins had a two-goal cushion they were able to protect the rest of the way.
“The response after their 1-0 lead was great for our team,” Hornqvist said.
He didn’t have to mention that keeping their composure was a big part of that.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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