NEW YORK – Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 shots for his 49th NHL shutout, and the Pittsburgh Penguins scored on the first shot of the first and third periods in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins the lead just 1:24 in, James Neal added a power-play goal 28 seconds into the third – after another costly too many men on the ice penalty for the Rangers – and Simon Despres netted his second NHL goal to give Pittsburgh (4-3) its second win in five games.
Malkin added an assist, as did captain Sidney Crosby, on Neal’s goal. Despres came out of the penalty box to score at 10:23 of the third right after Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman hit the post at the other end.
Pittsburgh is winless at home but 4-1 on the road. The Penguins have two wins in New York this season, one fewer than the host Rangers, who had won three of four overall.
Vokoun was steady throughout in earning his 289th NHL victory, but wasn’t challenged much by the Rangers (3-4), who have scored two goals or fewer in four games. He was bailed out twice in the third by drives that struck posts behind him.
New York struggled to generate offense in its first game without captain Ryan Callahan, expected to be sidelined 10-14 games by a shoulder injury sustained Tuesday in a win against Philadelphia.
Vokoun, who relieved goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, got another start against the Rangers. Vokoun (2-1) has split time with Fleury and has played in four games. His only wins this season have come at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins jumped on the Rangers early, just as they did in New York’s home opener on Jan. 20 when Pittsburgh chased goalie Henrik Lundqvist from the net.
Malkin fired a drive from the lower portion of the right circle that got through a screen and beat the surprised Lundqvist at 1:24. Pittsburgh scored just 1:48 into the previous matchup – the first of three first-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory.
Lundqvist, who has played in every game this season, made 26 saves.
Play was disjointed in the second period and filled with numerous offsides and icing calls along with a variety of penalties on each side. The Rangers were whistled for four penalties, including the too many men call that carried over into the third period.
New York coach John Tortorella fumed Tuesday after Carl Hagelin jumped onto the ice early, a penalty that led directly to Philadelphia’s only goal in the Rangers’ 2-1 win. Tortorella was no happier after this one.
The call came right after the Rangers managed to keep their deficit at one goal when Lundqvist deflected away a drive by Crosby on a breakaway with 50 seconds left in the middle period.
Crosby was already aggravated in the opening minute of the second when he was knocked down after the whistle by defenseman Dan Girardi, who was called for roughing.
The Rangers showed aggressiveness several times after play was stopped, including in the first when Marc Staal engaged in a scuffle behind the New York net with Malkin. Both players were sent off for roughing, a similar situation to Tuesday when Callahan was injured in a tussle with Max Talbot.
Notes: Vokoun, a 14-year veteran, is the only NHL goalie with at least four shutouts each season since 2005-06. ... Rangers D Matt Gilroy made his season debut, taking the lineup spot created by Callahan’s injury. ... Pittsburgh claimed LW Zach Boychuk off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. He is expected to join the team on Friday. ... D Robert Bortuzzo made his season debut for Pittsburgh. D Ben Lovejoy sat out. ... The Rangers were 0 for 4 on the power play and are 3 for 28 this season.