Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/20/13
NEW YORK -- James Neal scored two goals, giving him three in two games, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers, who sent goalie Henrik Lundqvist to the bench in the second period. Neal and Tyler Kennedy both scored goals for the second straight game as the Penguins opened a 5-1 lead and held on to spoil the Rangers' home opener at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night. Matt Niskanen and Pascal Dupuis also scored and Kris Letang added an empty-net goal for the Penguins (2-0), who opened the season outscoring Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia and the Rangers 9-4. New York fell to 0-2 and was humbled enough to send Lundqvist to the bench about midway through the second period after he gave up four goals at that point. Ryan Callahan, Taylor Pyatt and Rick Nash scored goals for the Rangers, the latter two players picking up their first goals as Rangers and pulling New York to within 5-3 with a pair of third-period goals. Tomas Voukon made 31 saves for the Penguins while Lundqvist stopped 18 shots and Rangers backup Martin Biron made 20 saves while allowing a third-period goal to Neal in front of the net, off an assist from Evgeni Malkin and Paul Martin, 5:06 into the period. Pittsburgh jumped on the Rangers for three goals in the first and added a fourth on a power-play goal by Dupuis at the 9:11 mark of the second, prompting the Rangers to pull Lundqvist for Biron. The Penguins built a 3-1 lead in the first, getting on the board in the first two minutes while on a power play. Before the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella said he wasn't expecting offseason acquisition Arron Asham to be a "saint" as he prepared for his Rangers debut, given his reputation. Asham, who played with the Penguins last season, served the last of a four-game suspension in Saturday's season opener, but took just two seconds to square off with the man who replaced him in Pittsburgh, Tanner Glass. Usually fourth-liners, the players started and immediately engaged in a fight that included several shots to the head by each. A half-minute later, the Rangers' Brad Richards was called for an interference penalty, giving the Penguins a power play, which they converted when Neal scored 1:48 into the game for a 1-0 lead. The Rangers took advantage of a 5-on-3 and tied the game on a rebound by Callahan after Voukon deflected a shot by Richards, 9:55 into the first. But the Penguins, who won their opener 3-1, racked up two more goals in the period to stun New York and leave Rangers fans booing at the end of the period. Kennedy scored off a deflection after Joe Vitale's miss, 15:05 into the first. Defensemen Niskanen then made it 3-1 with just 1:10 left in the first, when his shot deflected off Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi's skate and through Lundqvist's legs. Sidney Crosby got an assist, his first point of the season. NOTES: Rangers right wing Brandon Segal was returned to AHL affiliate Connecticut to make room for Arron Asham. ... Rangers coach John Tortorella said before the game that top offseason acquisition Rick Nash will "be a really good player for us," but he meant beyond scoring. Nash scored 30 or more goals in seven of his nine seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Tortorella said he expects him to also help with penalty-killing. "I think he's picked that up pretty quickly, as far as how we do it," Tortorella said. ... Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was given the start off as Pittsburgh played back-to-back games. ... Penguins defensemen Ben Lovejoy and Robert Bortuzzo were scratches along with center Dustin Jeffrey. Defensemen Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy were the scratches for New York.
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