NEW YORK — The Penguins got back to playing the style that made them one of the NHL's best teams after Christmas.
They played defense. They got goals from their stars, a winner from 39-year-old Matt Cullen and a solid effort from rookie goaltender Matt Murray.
Even Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh's return from a hand injury could not slow the Penguins in their 3-1 victory, which gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 series lead.
"We understand if you want to win games, that's how you're going to have to win them this time of year," said Penguins star Sidney Crosby, whose power-play goal late in the second period tied the score at 1. "Our mind-set is playing the right way, doing the things that have got us here, The past is the past. Right now we want to make sure we are better every game. I think we took a good step here tonight."
The Rangers have lost four consecutive playoff games at Madison Square Garden going back to last season's Eastern Conference final against Tampa Bay.
Capitals-Flyers: Washington goalie Braden Holtby left practice with an apparent left leg injury, but coach Barry Trotz said he expects Holtby to play tonight in Game 4. … The league suspended Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for tonight for checking defenseman Dmitry Orlov from behind. … The Flyers admonished some of their fans in light of Monday's Game 3 loss. At the end of Washington's 6-1 win, some fans began throwing light-up bracelets that the franchise attached to every seat for an elaborate pregame introduction on a night late owner Ed Snider was being honored.
Ducks: Frederik Andersen started Game 3 late Tuesday against the Predators. John Gibson played the first two games and allowed three goals in each, both 3-2 wins for Nashville.
First—None. Penalties—M.Staal, NYR (tripping), 10:42; Sheary, Pit, double minor (high-sticking), 12:10; Kunitz, Pit (roughing), 16:58; Letang, Pit (roughing), 16:58; Stalberg, NYR (roughing), 16:58; Hayes, NYR (roughing), 16:58.
Second—1, N.Y. Rangers, Nash 1 (Klein, M.Staal), :39 (sh). 2, Pittsburgh, Crosby 2 (Kessel, Malkin), 19:18 (pp). Penalties—Kreider, NYR (boarding), :22; Daley, Pit (roughing), 3:18; Malkin, Pit (tripping), 8:04; M.Staal, NYR (hooking), 19:00.
Third—3, Pittsburgh, Cullen 1 (Kuhnhackl, Cole), 4:16. 4, Pittsburgh, Letang 1, 19:47 (en). Penalties—None. Shots—Pittsburgh 9-10-12—31. N.Y. Rangers 6-7-4—17. PPs—Pittsburgh 1 of 3; N.Y. Rangers 0 of 4. Goalies—Pittsburgh, Murray 1-0-0 (17 shots-16 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 1-1-0 (30-28). A—18,006 (18,006). T—2:30.