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Pens rout Rangers for first-place tie

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby picked up his NHL-leading 22nd goal, Evgeni Malkin added a goal and two assists and the Penguins toppled the Rangers 7-2 on Tuesday night to move into a tie with the Rangers atop the crowded Metropolitan Division.

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Bryan Rust, Phil Kessel, Justin Schultz, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Bonino also scored for the Penguins, 8-0-2 in December. Matt Murray made 26 saves and is unbeaten in regulation in his last 13 home starts as the Penguins cruised despite missing injured defensemen Kris Letang and Trevor Daley.

Michael Grabner collected his team-high 14th goal for New York and Matt Puempel added his second, but New York struggled to keep pace. Antti Raanta stopped 40 of 47 shots and allowed four third-period goals after the Rangers had pulled within 3-2.

Pittsburgh's seven goals are the most the Rangers have given up this season. The Penguins had six goals in a win at Madison Square Garden last month.

Crosby is averaging 0.81 goals per game this season. The only player in franchise history with a higher average in a season is Mario Lemieux, who did it five times.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Cam Atkinson had two goals and scored in the shootout, helping the host Blue Jackets beat the Kings 3-2 for their franchise-record 10th straight victory. Curtis McElhinney made 44 saves and Sam Gagne scored the decider in the shootout. Columbus has points in 12 straight games, improved to 21-5-4 and next hosts the Penguins on Thursday night with a chance to jump into first place in the Metropolitan Division. … James Neal scored twice in the first period, Juuse Saros stopped 27 shots and the visiting Predators beat the Devils 5-1. Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist, Filip Forsberg also scored and Viktor Arvidsson had three assists for the Predators. Sergey Kalinin spoiled Saros' bid for his first NHL shutout with 4:49 left. … Thomas Greiss stopped 48 shots, Anders Lee scored twice and had an assist, and the visiting Islanders beat the Bruins 4-2. Thomas Hickey and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders in their first win since beating St. Louis on Dec. 8. New York was outscored 24-12 while going 0-4-1 in the five games since. … Paul Byron, Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Petry provided goals and the host Canadiens erased an early deficit to beat the Ducks 5-1. Max Pacioretty and Chris Terry also scored in the third for Montreal. The Ducks got a goal from Andrew Cogliano but put nothing else past Carey Price, who needed to make only 12 saves.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Sabres are sending top prospect Alexander Nylander to play for Sweden in the world junior hockey championships next week. The Sabres took the forward eighth overall this year.

Pens rout Rangers for first-place tie 12/20/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 10:37pm]
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