Rangers 6, Penguins 1

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Maybe all Jaromir Jagr needed to break out of his minislump was to hear the friendly voices in the city where he starred for 10 years.

B-o-o! B-o-o!

Jagr scored three goals, including a pair 15 seconds apart with the teams skating 4-on-4 in the second period, and the New York Rangers won their third in a row on the road by beating the lethargic Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 Saturday night.

Jagr’s 15th, 16th and 17th goals came after he went scoreless for four games — a stretch in which the Rangers won three times, losing only to the Penguins on Monday. Jagr’s big night came as some in the standing-room crowd of 17,132 booed him any time he touched the puck, a response to his messy departure four years ago from the town where he won two Stanley Cups.

“I’m not the first guy they booed and I won’t be the last,” said Jagr, a five-time NHL scoring champion with Pittsburgh from 1990-2001. “It makes me feel a lot better when I score a goal and we win the game.”

Or three goals.

Jagr made it 2-0 midway through the second, working a 3-on-1 break with Jason Ward and Tom Poti after the Rangers collected the rebound of Ziggy Palffy’s missed shot and went on a rush. Jagr, the only Rangers skater to stay on the ice after that goal, scored a stylish goal 15 seconds later by skating down the left wing boards and wristing a shot that flew between defenseman Ryan Whitney’s legs and past goalie Jocelyn Thibault.

B-o-o! B-o-o!

“It used to be much worse,” Jagr said of the booing he has heard since asking the Penguins to trade him, something they finally did for financial reasons in 2001. “It’s been four years, but it is more special because we’re playing a very good team tonight. It’s not so much that it came against Pittsburgh, but it’s more about how we’re playing as a team.”

Jagr, tied for the NHL goal lead with Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne, had his 12th career hat trick by scoring late in third and already has five multigoal games in 19 games this season, two of three goals. He has 101 multigoal games in his career.

Steve Rucchin also had two goals in the third period for the Rangers, who controlled the game from the start as the Penguins looked lifeless and leg-weary playing their fourth game in six nights. Even Sidney Crosby, the outstanding 18-year-old rookie who won Thursday night’s game against Montreal with a shootout goal, didn’t look into it, getting only two shots until the third period and taking penalties on consecutive shifts late in the game.

The Rangers were so in control, they kept the puck in the Pittsburgh zone for minutes at the time, even though they didn’t score 5-on-5 until Rucchin’s first goal in the third period began to quiet the periodic booing of Jagr.

“We tried to make plays that weren’t there, and you can’t give Jaromir Jagr that many chances,” Penguins forward Ryan Malone said. “There are no excuses, you’ve got to come to play every night. It would have been a very big game to win.”

Jed Ortmeyer put the Rangers in control from the start, scoring 2:15 into the game by stealing the puck from defenseman Sergei Gonchar in the neutral zone and stuffing in his own rebound after Jocelyn Thibault stopped his initial shot. Thibault gave up six goals on 41 shots two nights after winning for the first time this season by turning aside 30 of 32 Montreal shots.

“The guys played as gutsy a game as you can coming off a long trip and found a way to get it done the other night,” coach Eddie Olczyk said. “It is disappointing to know we can play like that and then not have it tonight. … It’s going to be a long 48 hours before we play Monday night.”

The Rangers got a strong performance from goalie Kevin Weekes, who made 23 saves for his fourth victory this season after Henrik Lundqvist played well in consecutive victories at Florida and Tampa Bay. Not that the Penguins pressured Weekes much, generating few scoring opportunities while going 0-for-6 on the power play.

“The biggest thing now for us is the goaltending—they’ve been giving us a chance to win every game,” Rucchin said.

Notes

The Rangers also were playing their fourth in six nights. They are 5-1 in November. … Rucchin has three goals and three assists in five games. … Pittsburgh had won its last four against the Rangers dating to 2003-04. … The Penguins are 2-4-2 at home, the Rangers 6-3-1 on the road with games left Tuesday at Toronto and Thursday at Carolina on their five-game road trip. … Jagr has six goals in 14 career games against Pittsburgh.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
J. Jagr J. Jagr
New York Rangers
Scored at 8:42 of 2nd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Kevin Weekes NJ 24 23