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Penguins 3, Rangers 0

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- James Neal scored his fifth goal of the season and Simon Despres got his first as the Pittsburgh Penguins broke out of a mini-slump to defeat the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden for the second time in as many weeks.

Evgeni Malkin added his second goal of the season for Pittsburgh and goalie Tomas Voukon made 28 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Rangers on Thursday night.

The Penguins (4-3-0) had dropped three of four since their 6-3 win at the Garden on Jan. 20 and New York had gone 3-1 before playing its first full game without injured captain Ryan Callahan on Thursday. But Pittsburgh scored early in the first period on a goal by Malkin and opened the third with a power-play goal from Neal 26 seconds in, with assists to Sidney Crosby and Malkin.

Neal poked the puck past Henrik Lundqvist, getting a piece of Crosby's drive toward the net to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead just a few moments after the Rangers were called for having too many men on the ice.

Despres later added his first goal of the year, with an assist from Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams, to all but clinch the game for the Penguins. The score came at 10:23 of the third period, a moment after the Rangers missed an opportunity at the other end.

Lundqvist, who has started all seven games for the Rangers and was pulled from the Jan. 20 loss in the second period after allowing four goals, had 26 saves.

The Rangers, who made some lineup shifts to account for Callahan's absence, seemed out of sync at times and appeared to miss the spark the energetic leader often provides on both ends of the ice.

New York (3-4-0) again committed several penalties, including the one that burned them on Pittsburgh's second goal. The Rangers also struggled on the power play, going 0 of 4.

Pittsburgh struck quickly, scoring less than two minutes into the game. Malkin smacked a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past Lundqvist at the 1:24 mark of the first period for a 1-0 lead for the Penguins, with assists going to Dupuis and Kris Letang.

NOTES: Callahan told reporters at the morning shootaround he was relieved his injury wasn't worse. An MRI revealed he had a left shoulder subluxation, which is more of a partial or temporary dislocation than a full dislocation. He's expected to be out 10 to 14 days because of the injury, which occurred in the third period of Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, when he got into a tussle with Maxime Talbot. ... Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy made his season debut, with Stu Bickel moving to forward due to Callahan's injury. ... Rangers defenseman Chris Kreider (ankle) missed his fourth straight game, but he was on the ice for practice for the second consecutive day. The timetable for his return is uncertain. ... The Penguins claimed forward Zach Boychuk off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The 23-year-old 2008 first-round draft pick (14th overall) spent most of the season with AHL affiliate Charlotte and had 16 goals and 32 points in 37 games there. Coach Dan Blysma told reporters at the team's morning shootaround that Boychuk could play on Malkin's line and could be ready to play Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. ... Penguins forward Chris Kunitz (illness) missed the team's shootaround but started the game.
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