Franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist was able to play for the New York Rangers while backup Jeff Zatkoff was still in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And thanks to three second-period goals, the Rangers tied their first-round playoff series against the Penguins with a 4-2 win in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at Consol Energy Center.
Game 3 is Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Lundqvist stopped 29 shots after a right-eye injury scare while Zatkoff, a surprise star in the Penguins’ 5-2 win in Game 1 on Wednesday night with 35 shots, looked much more pedestrian in making 24 saves with their franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury still recovering from his second concussion of the season.
Despite again not having Fleury, the Penguins, too, had their share of positive injury news.
Elite center Evgeni Malkin returned after being out with an upper-body injury since March 11. He centered a line with Bryan Rust, who had been out since March 29 with a lower-body injury.
The Penguins, skating four on three, cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-2 at 5:42 of the third
period, just 12 seconds after Keith Yandle cross checked Malkin at the Rangers’ crease as Nick Bonino, collecting Malkin’s shot, found Phil Kessel open on the left.
Chris Kreider was already in the penalty box for goalie interference on Zatkoff — a highly questionable call given how far above the blue paint the goalie was — just seven seconds into a Rangers’ power play.
The Rangers scored 18 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead in the second period.
First, Derick Brassard beat Matt Cullen on an offensive zone faceoff and J.T. Miller found Yandle cutting to the crease from the left to tie the game at 12:38.
Then, Brassard picked up a loose puck at the blue line and skated in to beat Zatkoff at 12:56 on a play the Penguins challenged as offside. After a lengthy video review, it was ruled Brassard was onside.
Mats Zuccarello then gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead at 16:52 of the second period, beating Zatkoff from low in the right circle off Miller’s cross-ice feed, giving Miller his third primary assist of the period.
NY Rangers 0 3 1—4
Pittsburgh 0 1 1—2
First Period—None. Penalties—Hayes, NYR (Interference), 16:25; Hornqvist, PIT (Roughing), 19:58; Zuccarello, NYR (Roughing), 19:58.
Second Period—1, Pittsburgh, Kessel 1 (Daley, Bonino) 3:21 (pp). 2, NY Rangers, Yandle 1 (Miller, Brassard) 12:38. 3, NY Rangers, Brassard 1 (Miller, Skjei) 12:56. 4, NY Rangers, Zuccarello 1 (Miller) 16:52. Penalties—Zuccarello, NYR (Hooking), 2:08; Dumoulin, PIT (Hooking), 8:47; Rust, PIT (Interference), 13:26; Miller, NYR (Interference), 17:15.
Third Period—5, NY Rangers, Kreider 1 (Brassard) :39. 6, Pittsburgh, Kessel 2 (Bonino, Malkin) 5:42 (pp). Penalties—Crosby, PIT (Slashing), 4:34; Kreider, NYR (Goaltender interference), 4:41; Yandle, NYR (Cross checking), 5:30; Klein, NYR major (Fighting), 11:43; Kunitz, PIT major (Fighting), 11:43; Klein, NYR (Unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:43; Kunitz, PIT (Slashing), 11:43.
Shots on Goal—NY Rangers 7-14-7—28. Pittsburgh 10-11-10—31.
Power-play opportunities—NY Rangers 0 of 3. Pittsburgh 2 of 5.
Goalies—NY Rangers Lundqvist 1-0-0 (31 shots-29 saves). Pittsburgh Zatkoff 1-1-0 (28-24).
A—18,614 (18,387). T—2:45.
Referees—Steve Kozari, Marc Joannette. Linesmen—Steve Barton, Jonny Murray.