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Crosby, Rust score twice as Penguins beat Rangers 5-2

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NEW YORK (AP) — Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist and Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat New York 5-2 on Monday night, snapping the Rangers’ five-game winning streak.

Bryan Rust also scored twice and Emil Bemstrom added a goal for Pittsburgh, which ended a four-game losing streak in New York and improved to 14-9-3 in its last 26 games against Rangers. The Penguins lost both previous games this season at home against the first-place Rangers and were making their lone appearance at Madison Square Garden.

“We know the circumstances. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Crosby said. ”You’ve got to find ways, whatever you have to do to get wins. That was a great team win.”

Kaapo Kakko and Jack Roslovic scored goals for the Rangers, and Igor Shesterkin finished with 16 saves.

The Rangers trailed 3-0 before Kakko ruined Nedeljkovic’s shutout bid at 10:42 of the third with his 12th goal of the season. Artemi Panarin got his team-leading 64th assist and 108th point on the play.

Roslovic made it 3-2 with 3:07 left in the third with his eighth goal of the season and second with the Rangers.

However, Rust and Crosby scored empty-net goals over the final 2:11 to cement the Penguins’ win as Nedeljkovic improved to 13-6-6 in his first season with the Penguins.

“We knew it was going to be a tough test. That’s a really good hockey team over there,” Nedeljkovic said. ”They had a lot to play for but so do we. We’re fighting for points and the guys did a great job.”

Pittsburgh is still facing missing the playoffs for a second straight season for the first time during Crosby’s career, which began in 2005-06.

The Rangers were coming off an 8-5 win at Arizona on Saturday, their 50th victory of the season. New York had won 11 of their previous 13 home contests, including last Tuesday’s wild 6-5 overtime win over Philadelphia.

“Overall, not our best game,” said forward Mika Zibanejad, who assisted on Roslovic’s goal.

Rust opened the scoring just 18 seconds into the contest, beating Shesterkin.

Crosby made it 2-0 at 10:39 and Bemstrom increased the lead to 3-0 with a breakaway goal at 9:51 of the third, his seventh.

“You can’t spot a team two goals and expect to win in this league,” Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey said. ”Going down two that early in the game changes the whole dynamic. You’re chasing the game. A few too many mistakes tonight.”

Rust’s second goal of the game was his 26th of the season at 17:21 while Crosby’s second of the contest with 45 seconds left was his 37th of the season and the 587th of his career.

With 82 points this season, the 36-year-old Crosby is assured of averaging a point per game for the 19th time in his 19 NHL seasons. Wayne Gretzky also had 19 such campaigns.

”Any time you can be in that company, it’s pretty cool,” Crosby added in reference to matching Gretzky on such a significant milestone.

Crosby’s first-period assist was the 997th of his career and his 80th point this season, marking the 13th time he has reached that milestone, tying him with Marcel Dionne, Mark Messier and Dale Hawerchuk. Gretzky has the most such seasons with 17.

“It’s remarkable for him to perform at an elite level for as long as he has,″ Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby. ”His body of work speaks for itself. All of these milestones that he’s reaching is evidence that he’s one of the greatest players of all time.”

Nedeljkovic, who is in his first season as a Penguin, agreed with how impressive Crosby is as a teammate.

“There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. It’s incredible to watch,” he said. ”He’s so much more than a goal scorer. Doing the little things is what makes him a leader.”

The Rangers still have wins in seven of their last nine games and points in 24 of their last 30 with a 22-6-2 record.

“Any time you lose, it’s tough,” Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said. “We had a chance to tie it and it just didn’t happen.”

UP NEXT

Penguins: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Rangers: Host New Jersey on Wednesday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

ALLAN KREDA
Associated Press

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