Kakko scores 2, lifts Rangers past Penguins 3-2 in OT
NEW YORK (AP) — Kaapo Kakko likes the way his game is improving.
The 18-year-old Finnish rookie scored his second goal of the night 2:36 into overtime to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
“It’s getting better,” Kakko said. “I guess it’s always good when you score a couple of goals.”
Adam Fox had a goal in regulation and set up Kakko’s winner as New York recovered after blowing a two-goal lead and improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games. Alexandar Georgiev finished with 30 saves.
Kakko also scored in regulation and had a shootout goal in the Rangers’ 6-5 loss to Florida on Sunday. New York coach David Quinn has noticed a difference in Kakko as he’s gained some confidence.
“Just talking to him, the way he walks around now, there’s just a whole new level of swagger to him,” Quinn said of the second overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. “There’s a comfort level that I think he’s attaining and you can see it in his face. There’s a lot more smiling and a lot more swagger.”
In the extra period, Fox brought the puck up the left side, skated toward the middle and sent a pass to the left doorstep, where Kakko redirected the puck past Penguins goalie Matt Murray for his sixth of the season.
“First couple of minutes were so hard for us, then we had the puck and a great pass by Foxy,” Kakko said. “That was easy for me. ... It’s always so fun scoring in overtime, I think everybody likes it. A good game.”
Justin Schultz and Jared McCann scored for the short-handed Penguins, who earned at least a point for the sixth time in seven games (4-1-2). Murray, making his seventh straight start and 15th in 18 games this season, stopped 24 shots.
The Penguins were without star center Sidney Crosby due to a lower body injury, as well as defenseman Kris Letang and forward Patric Hornqvist.
With the score tied 2-all, both teams had chances in the third, with Georgiev and Murray making great stops on both ends. The Rangers went on their second power play with 4:10 left but managed just one shot on goal as Pittsburgh killed off its 16th straight penalty and 22nd in the last 23.
In the closing seconds, Brian Dumoulin had a shot blocked by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba and his follow was stopped by Georgiev to send the game to overtime.
The Penguins trailed 2-0 after getting outshot 11-8 in the first period. It marked the 12th time in 17 games Pittsburgh gave up the first goal of the game.
“We weren’t ready to play, they were ready to play and they outplayed us in the first period,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “I give our guys a lot of credit for fighting back, but it’s hard to play if you’re in a two-goal deficit. It’s hard to climb out of it. ... For me the lesson learned is we’ve got to play a full 60 (minutes).”
Schultz got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard at 1:13 on the team’s second shot of the period. He took a pass from Evgeni Malkin, skated through the left circle and fired the puck past Georgiev for his second.
The Penguins tied it with 7:27 left in the second as Dominik Simon mishit the puck off his own skate and got it to McCann, who fired it past Georgiev for his sixth. That ended Pittsburgh’s 11-game drought without a power-play goal, and snapped an 0-for-28 skid with the man advantage.
Pittsburgh, which has been outscored 11-9 in the first period, has 28 goals in the second — one behind Washington for most in the middle period.
The Rangers grabbed the lead in the first when a streaking Kakko took a pass from Brendan Lemieux, went forehand to backhand and put the puck past Murray from the right side at 6:42.
New York had a 9-1 advantage in shots over the first 7 1/2 minutes, but had only one more shot on goal until Fox got a cross-ice pass from Artemi Panarin and beat Murray top shelf from the right circle for his third with 9.3 seconds left.
NOTES: Pittsburgh came back from a multiple-goal deficit for the fourth straight game, but is 2-1-1 in that stretch. ... Malkin has points in four straight games (one goal, five assists) since returning from an 11-game absence due to injury. ... McCann extended his point streak to four games, with two goals and four assists in that stretch. ... As part of Veterans Night, the Rangers wore customized jerseys and had camouflage tape on their sticks during warmups. The jerseys and sticks will be auctioned off to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. ... Fox extended his point streak to five games, with two goals and six assists. ... Panarin extended his point streak to nine games, tying a career high. He has nine assists and 13 points in that stretch.
Penguins: At New Jersey on Friday night before playing five of the next six at home.
Rangers: At Tampa Bay on Thursday night to open a two-game trip to Florida.
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