Penguins Thwart Rangers in OT, 5-4

Two old Rangers nemeses thwarted the Blueshirts again.

Sidney Crosby scored the game-tying goal with 0:56 to go in regulation, and Evgeny Malkin scored 58 seconds into OT, as the Penguins dealt the Rangers a soul-crushing 5-4 overtime loss Tuesday night at The Garden.

The Rangers have lost four straight, and fall to 1-5-1 on the season.

The late Pittsburgh heroics spoiled what had been the best, most complete performance by the Rangers so far this season. But, in the end, the team’s struggles, and, no doubt, their frustrations, continued.

The Blueshirts’ bad habit of giving up early 1st period goals continued Tuesday. They fell into a hole just 43 seconds into the game when Phil Kessel beat Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist shot off the crossbar, to make it 1-0 Penguins.

Former Ranger Carl Hagelin made it 2-0 later in the period, beating Lundqvist to the glove side at 13:30. It was Hagelin’s 1st goal of the season.

The Rangers came alive in the 2nd period, playing some of their best hockey of the season, scoring three goals in a 2:30 span to take a 3-2 lead. David Desharnais scored his first goal as a Blueshirt 4:02 into the period, with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle past Matt Murray to make it 2-1.

Then, with Crosby in the penalty box on a double-minor for high-sticking, Pavel Buchnevich scored a power-play goal at 7:02 to tie the score, 2-2; it was his first goal of the season. Somehow, Buchnevich only saw 9:47 of ice time tonight.

One minute later, J.T. Miller gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead with a blistering slapshot past Murray at 8:02. The New York power play was 2-for-6 on the night.

Late in the 2nd, Patric Hornqvist tied the game with a power play goal at 18:02, off a pass from Kessel, to make it 3-3 heading into the 3rd period.

Early in the 3rd, New York nearly scored during a frantic sequence in front of the Pittsburgh net at the 5:43; Rick Nash‘s backhand shot, while falling down, deflected off Murray and then off the post. Mika Zibanejad tried to stuff the rebound past Murray but was pushed down by Kris Letang and then held in a chokehold [not called] by Jake Guenzel, all while Murray was scrambling to locate the loose puck in the crease, which was underneath himAt the same time, Crosby had Brady Skjei in a chokehold at the other side of the net [also not called], trying to keep Skjei from the puck.

The Rangers would regain the lead midway through the 3rd, when Michael Grabner completed a give-and-go with Desharnais, putting the puck past Murray at the 8:00 mark, for his first goal of the season and a 4-3 New York lead. The Blueshirts then essentially had 12 minutes to kill to go home with a win, and they nearly did it.

With Murray pulled for an extra attacker, Hornqvist knocked a loose puck down with his hand in front of the Rangers net. Crosby intentionally waited for Kevin Shattenkirk to touch the puck [because if Crosby touched it it would be whistled dead as a handpass], before Crosby gained control of the puck and backhanded it toward the crease; it deflected off Lundqvist and into the Rangers net for the game-tying goal at 19:04.

Early in the overtime, McDonagh made a horrible pass from right behind the New York net. Kessel stole the pass and passed the puck to Malkin, who scored the game-winner at 0:58. McDonagh, who led all Rangers with 26:55 of ice time, had six giveaways in the game.

Malkin finished with a goal and 3 assists. Kessel had a goal and two assists. For the Blueshirts, Miller has a goal and two assists, and Desharnais had one goal and one assist.

Murray and Lundqvist each made 28 saves.

The Rangers are back in action Thursday at The Garden against the Islanders.