Matt Cullen scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period, rookie Teddy Bulger scored twice, and the Pittsburgh Penguins scored five unanswered goals in a 5-2 victory over the host New York Rangers on Monday night.
Pittsburgh (42-24-11, 95 points) won its third consecutive game and moved into a tie with for second place in the Metropolitan Division with the New York Islanders. The Penguins and Islanders are one point behind the Washington Capitals for the division lead.
Cullen scored his first goal in 28 games by ripping a high wrist shot off the crossbar from the right circle to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead at 7:17 of the middle period.
Blueger added a short-handed goal nearly five minutes later by backhanding Bryan Rust’s pass from behind the net past goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. Blueger added insurance 7:38 into the third by tapping a rebound under Georgiev. The goal stood after the Rangers challenged.
Nick Bjugstad scored late in the first period and defenseman Justin Schultz tallied early in the second on the power play as Pittsburgh improved to 14-4-4 in its past 22 games.
Matt Murray made 33 saves and improved to 6-0-0 lifetime against the Rangers in the regular season. He also improved to 8-2-2 in his past 12 starts.
Sidney Crosby had an assist, and Phil Kessel and Marcus Pettersson added two assists apiece for the Penguins, who played without Evgeni Malkin (upper-body injury) for the fifth straight game and also scratched defenseman Kris Letang (upper-body injury).
Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri tallied for the Rangers, who lost for the sixth time in seven games. New York (29-33-13, 71 points) was denied in its bid for its first consecutive wins since winning three straight Jan. 15-19.
Georgiev allowed five goals on 36 shots.
The Rangers went ahead at 8:25 of the first period when Pavel Buchnevich whipped a cross-ice pass to Lemieux, who one-timed the puck from the right circle over Murray.
Lettieri made it with 4:45 left when he fired a slap shot from the left circle over Murray’s stick for his first goal of the season. Just 26 seconds later, Bjugstad swept a rebound off Georgiev’s pads into the net.
The Penguins tied the game 61 seconds into the second when Schultz blasted Crosby’s pass from behind the net past Georgiev.