Ondrej Pavelec – subbing for the ailing Henrik Lundqvist – made 41 saves, and Pavel Buchnevich’s go-ahead goal midway through the 3rd period held up, as the Rangers edged the Penguins, 4-3, Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Penguins.
Pavelec made his first start since October 28th, 14 games ago, after Lundqvist came down with the flu. Pavelec was tested throughout the game, especially in the 2nd period, when Pittsburgh out-shot New York 23-8.
The seesaw game saw several unlikely heroes for the Blueshirts. Boo Nieves scored his first career NHL goal 16:49 into the 1st period to give New York a 1-0 lead, and 4th-line teammate Jesper Fast‘s goal midway through the 2nd period, off a rebound, gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Mats Zuccarello scored his 4th goal of the season with 2:40 to play in the 2nd to give the Blueshirts a 3-2 lead. Zuccarello finished with a goal and an assist. Buchnevich’s goal, with 8:48 to play in the game, actually deflected off Kris Letang and past Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry. It was Buchnevich’s 10th goal of the season.
Evgeny Malkin clanged one off the post with 2:19 to play
The Penguins got goals from Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel, and Patric Hornqvist.
Since the Rangers’ 3-7-2 mark to start the season, the Blueshirts have won 12 of their last 15 games.
The Rangers [now 15-10-2, 32 pts] play the Capitals in Washington Friday night.