NEW YORK - Sean Avery's stick caught up with his mouth, making the notorious agitator that much tougher for the Pittsburgh Penguins to tolerate.
Avery goaded 20-year NHL veteran Gary Roberts into a four-minute penalty that led to a goal, and posted his first multipoint game of the season in the New York Rangers' 4-2 victory over the Penguins on Thursday night.
Playing for the fourth time since returning from a 10-game absence due to a shoulder injury, Avery slapped home a power-play goal - his first tally this season - 9:40 into the second period to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
"I'm kind of used to the unnerving part, so getting the first (goal) out of the way I think was bigger," Avery said. "I definitely think teams want me to do poorly, they probably want me to get hurt, and want me to take penalties and generally not play well.
"That's part of the thing that motivates me."
His annoyance of Roberts, who has 432 NHL goals, created a long power play that produced Michal Rozsival's power-play goal that put the Rangers ahead for good late in the first.
"The young guys, they're a little dumb. They don't really know what's going on half the time," Avery said. "So a guy like that, they take it a little bit more of an insult after you disrespect them and all they've done for the game and how great they are."
Avery's offence along with Brandon Dubinsky's first NHL goal paced New York's best scoring output since opening night.
"Juggernaut," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "The guys were saying that on the bench. It was a huge night for us."
Scott Gomez netted his fourth, scoring off an assist from Avery, and helped set up Rozsival's goal for the Rangers. New York won its fifth straight at home and snapped a run of four straight two-goal games.
"The other guys scoring the goals are more relieved than I am," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 26 saves, "I'm just trying to do my job."
New York, which started the season with a 5-2 win over Florida, scored more than two goals for the third time in 12 games, but have six victories in eight games. The Rangers, 8-2 at home and 0-5-1 away from Madison Square Garden, will open a four-game road trip Saturday in Toronto.
Sergei Gonchar got the first puck past Lundqvist, bringing the Penguins into a 1-1 tie in the first. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby earned his 15th assist to extend his career-best point streak to 15 games. Evgeni Malkin was credited with the second helper, the 16th this season, his ninth straight game with a point.
Mark Recchi added a power-play goal 4:22 into the third, with Dubinsky in the box, to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Pittsburgh outshot New York 14-7 in the final frame but couldn't get any closer.
"Too little, too late," Crosby said. "We've got to give ourselves a better chance to get back into it."
Lundqvist recovered well from a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. He made his 16th straight start and allowed more than one goal for the second time in 10 games.
That wasn't enough for the Penguins, who dropped their second in two nights and fourth in five games. Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves - 20 in the first period - in his return to the net after two games off. Dany Sabourin had started five of six, including Pittsburgh's 3-1 home loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The Penguins travelled to New York on Thursday for their fifth game in eight days.
That didn't help their suddenly struggling power play that went 1-for-6, one night after failing in seven chances. The Penguins had scored at least one man-advantage goal in the first 14 games before being shut down by the Flyers.
"We can't rely on one line," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "This is a team effort and we are going to need more contributions from everyone. They were skating a lot more than we were and they were winning battles."
Gomez got the Rangers going 7:35 in before Gonchar tied it at 11:31.
Rozsival restored New York's lead just under six minutes later to cap the Rangers' second 22-shot first period in three games.
Dubinsky, a rookie in his 22nd NHL game, beat Fleury with a backhander 2:48 into the third. He was in the penalty box less than a minute later when the goal was announced.
"I've just been pressing and pressing and pressing," the 21-year-old forward said. "I'm just hoping it's all downhill from here and the floodgates will open and I'll start getting more."
Notes: Avery recorded his first assist of the season Tuesday. ... Crosby has a point in every game this season except for opening night. Malkin has one in 14 of 16. ... Recchi has 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 97 games against the Rangers.