By VIN A. CHERWOO
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 2 on Thursday night to even the best-of-seven first-round series.
Chris Kreider, Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves two nights after stopping 79 shots in a triple-overtime loss in Game 1.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins. Louis Domingue, getting the start after replacing the injured Casey DeSmith in the second overtime of Game 1, finished with 34 saves.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
With the Rangers leading 3-2 after 40 minutes, the Penguins came out strong in the third period with the first nine shots on goal. Shesterkin stopped a tip by Bryan Rust and then made a diving save to deny a slap shot by Evgeni Malkin in the opening minute of the period. Shesterkin also stopped a slap shot by Guentzel 3 1/2 minutes in and then had a diving save on Crosby’s deflection nearly 30 seconds later.
Panarin then extended the lead to 4-2 when his centering pass from beyond the goal line deflected off Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson and past Domingue at 8:02.
Vatrano gave the Rangers a three-goal lead when he got around Matheson in the right circle, skated in and beat Domingue inside the right post at 9:49.
Shesterkin was down on the ice for several minutes following a collision with Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter as the goalie was trying to get back in position from behind the net with about two minutes left.
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead during a power play early in the second period when Adam Fox’s slap shot through traffic was deflected by Strome in front and through Domingue’s skates at 2:59.
Minutes later, the Penguins had an odd-man rush but ust fired a shot wide off the end boards, and Crosby’s sharp-angle attempt from the left side on the rebound was kicked aside by Shesterkin. That got the Madison Square Garden crowd, roaring since Strome’s go-ahead goal, to break out in chants of “I-gor! I-gor!”
Kreider pushed the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. He deflected Frank Vatrano’s point shot past Domingue for his second goal of the series at 7:54.
Crosby pulled the Penguins within one on a rush as he scored from the middle on the rebound of Bryan Rust’s backhander with 1:26 left in the middle period.
The Rangers outshot the Penguins 14-11 in a fast-paced and physical first period.
Copp got the Rangers on the scoreboard first again as he got a pass from Panarin and quickly fired a shot past Domingue from the inside edge of the right circle at 6:50. It was his second goal of the series.
Guentzel tied it with his third of the series after a turnover by the Rangers in the neutral zone. Guentzel got the rebound of a shot by Marcus Pettersson in front and fired a slap shot past Shesterkin at 8:52.
Guentzel scored his 29th career postseason goal, tying Boston’s Brad Marchand for the third-most since 2017. Only Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point (37) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (30) have more in that time. … Crosby’s assist on Guentzel’s first-period goal gave him 125 points to move past Sergei Fedorov (124) for eighth place on the NHL list. Crosby is one behind Jarri Kurri (127) for seventh. … Kreider played in his 82nd postseason game, tying Brian Leetch for the eighth most in franchise history. … Kreider’s goal gave him 42 career playoff points, tying Jean Ratelle for 14th place in franchise history.
Rangers D Ryan Lindgren (lower body injury) and F Barclay Goodrow (undisclosed injury) were out. Lindgren was a game-time decision but did not play. They were replaced by D Justin Braun and LW Dryden Hunt.
The Penguins were without RW Rickard Rakell, who left in the first period of Game 1, and D Brian Dumoulin. LW Drew O’Connor and D Mark Friedman returned to the lineup. LW Jason Zucker (lower-body injury) took part in pregame warmups but did not play.
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