Rangers routed by Penguins once again

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The Rangers’ push for a playoff spot took a hit on Thursday night.

Kris Letang and Evan Rodrigues scored in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.

Radim Zohorna and Jason Zucker each added a goal and an assist, Mark Jankowski also scored, and Letang and Rodrigues also each had an assist. Tristan Jarry stopped 22 shots to help Pittsburgh snap a two-game skid.

The Penguins beat the Rangers for the sixth time in eight games this season.

Colin Blackwell and Kevin Rooney scored for the Rangers, who were 3-0-1 in their last four. Igor Shesterkin, starting for the fifth straight game, made 27 saves.

The Penguins had given up 15 goals in their previous two games — a 7-5 loss at Boston last Saturday and 8-4 here to the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Zucker scored on a backhander with 9:31 left in the third for is sixth to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead.

Rooney pulled the Rangers within two with 6:12 left. Adam Fox drew Jarry out to the goalie’s left as he skated past the goal line and sent a pass back in front and Rooney scored into the open goal.

The Rangers pulled Shesterkin for an extra skater with a little more than 2 1/2 minutes left, but Jankowski sealed it with an empty-netter a minute later to seal it.

Blackwell tied it at 1 at 2:02 of the second. With the Rangers on their second power play of the game, Kaapo Kakko sent a pass to Pavel Buchnevich at the bottom of the right circle, and Buchnevich passed it in front to Blackwell, who quickly beat Jarry for his 11th.

Letang put the Penguins back in front 1:21 later as his pass toward the front of the net for Bryan Rust, deflected off Chris Kreider’s stick and through defenseman Ryan Lindgren’s legs and past Shesterkin. It was Letang’s seventh.

On the Penguins’ second power play of the game, Zohorna got a pass from Zucker below the left circle near the goal line and sent it in front to Rodrigues, who beat Shesterkin with 8:32 left for his fifth to make it 3-1.

Penguins star center Sidney Crosby went to the dressing room late in the second period due to an equipment issue, but was back on the ice for the third.

Kreider had a penalty shot with 2:01 left in the middle period after he was taken down by Cody Ceci on a breakaway, but Jarry denied his attempt.

The Penguins came out aggressive and outshot the Rangers 13-5 in the first period, including 9-2 over the first 5 1/2 minutes. Pittsburgh then broke though on its 10th attempt.

Off a long pass from Marcus Pettersson, Zohorna skated up the right side, cut in front of the goal and beat Shesterkin from the left side at 6:26 for his second goal in four games this season.

The Rangers were able to get COVID vaccines on Wednesday, and most of the players got their shots.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to get that vaccine,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “It’s obviously been a crazy time. … Hopefully we can in the near future move on to a little more of normal life.”

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