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Jaromir Jagr scores with 33.8 seconds left to help Rangers edge Penguins 2-1

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Jagr snapped his longest scoring drought of the season Monday night when his pass for Nylander clipped off Scuderi's stick and slipped into the net with 33.8 seconds left in the New York Rangers' 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I am not 24 chasing any records anymore," said the 35-year-old Jagr, who went eight games without scoring for the second time this season. "My goal is to make the playoffs. Right now it doesn't matter as long as we win."

New York moved past idle Carolina into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two nights after getting into playoff position. The Rangers, who nearly put up back-to-back shutouts for the first time since March 2003, trail sixth-place Tampa Bay by one point with nine games left.

Jagr swung around Alain Nasreddine and flipped the puck toward the net. The drive hit Scuderi and slipped underneath Jocelyn Thibault, who stopped 40 of New York's previous 41 shots. The puck disappeared, but it was revealed over the line when Thibault moved his legs.

"I thought it was in but I wasn't 100 per cent sure," said Jagr, who reached 25 goals for the 16th straight season.

The goal was awarded after a video review that lasted a few minutes. Thibault hung his head in the crease and again on the bench after being pulled for an extra skater. He didn't face another shot, but Jagr's goal was enough to snap Pittsburgh's winning streak at five and improve the Rangers' run to 7-1-3.

"I was just trying to squeeze my pads," Thibault said. "I didn't know where it was. For a second I kind of had it. You couldn't see the puck until I split my pads. Knowing that, I would've moved my pads the other way."

The Penguins could've tied New Jersey atop the Atlantic Division with a win, but remained two points back. Thibault sparkled in place of No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who backstopped a 4-3 shootout victory over Ottawa at home Sunday night.

Pittsburgh is 7-1-1 in its last nine and went 4-1 during a stretch of five games in seven days.

"If you look at the big picture, you have to be satisfied," coach Michel Therrien said. "What makes it tough is that we were about 30 seconds from picking up at least another point."

This one was scoreless until the third period, when Blair Betts gave New York a 1-0 lead at 47 seconds.

Pittsburgh caught the Rangers in the third for the third time in 19 days when Michel Ouellet tied it with 5:42 left. Ouellet guided in Erik Christensen's pass before soaring through the crease over goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was spread out in front.

Lundqvist, who stopped 30 shots in a 7-0 win against Boston on Saturday, had little work after the opening period. He stopped eight shots in the opening 20 minutes, five in the second, and eight in the third.

Thibault made 19 saves in the second period, when the Rangers had three power-play chances. The 32-year-old netminder stopped 25 shots at New Jersey last Wednesday in his previous outing, posting his first NHL shutout since Oct. 8, 2003, and had gone 141 minutes, 15 seconds without allowing a goal when Betts broke the deadlock.

Even after the goal, Thibault shined - flopping in his crease to stop the Rangers at the midway point - and giving Pittsburgh a chance for another comeback. The Penguins beat the Rangers twice in the previous 10 games by erasing 2-0 deficits in the third and winning in overtime.

Pittsburgh earned two of its four wins over the Rangers this season with deflected goals off New York defencemen.

"We got a bad bounce, no doubt," Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said. "We've had our breaks against them throughout the year. This one went against us."

Ryan Hollweg earned an assist on Betts' goal, his third point and second helper of the season, hours after Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice decided not to pursue charges against Islanders forward Chris Simon, who struck Hollweg with a two-handed swing of his stick in a game earlier this month.

Notes: Linesman Brad Kovachik broke his wrist in a fall after colliding with Lundqvist near the Rangers' bench in the second period and is expected to be sidelined at least three weeks. . . . The Rangers haven't allowed a first-period goal in seven games. . . . The Penguins have lost four of five on the back end of consecutive games. . . . Sixteen of Pittsburgh's past 20 games have been decided by one goal. . . . New York was without LW Martin Straka (knee) but hopes to get Brendan Shanahan (concussion) back Wednesday.


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