Series (Game 2 of 5)

Pittsburgh leads 3-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 12th
Game 2: Thursday, December 26th
Game 3: Saturday, January 11th
Game 4: Friday, February 14th
Game 5: Wednesday, March 26th

Penguins 6

(14-14-4, 35 pts)

Rangers 1

(13-19-1, 32 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 26, 2002

Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

1 2 3 T
PIT 3 2 16
NYR 1 0 01

M. Lemieux (Penguins - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

M. Rozsival (Penguins - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Kovalev (Penguins - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Pens break game open with pair of power-play goals

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mario Lemieux doesn't even have to strike the puck cleanly to get it into the New York Rangers' net.

 Mario Lemieux

Lemieux, the NHL's leading scorer, had a goal and two assists Thursday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Rangers 6-1 Thursday night for their second straight lopsided win over New York.

The Penguins, who beat the Rangers 6-0 on Oct. 12, have won three straight following a 10-game losing streak. The Rangers fell to 1-7-1-1 in their last 10 games.

Lemieux put the Penguins ahead 1-0 with his 18th of the season at 6:31 of the first period. Lemieux, skating on a 2-on-1 break with Martin Straka, took a pass in the left circle and wristed a low shot past Mike Dunham on the stick side.

"I fanned on the shot," Lemieux said. "It wasn't a good shot. I was surprised it went in."

He has 60 goals and 131 points in games with the Rangers, his most against any team.

Dunham was pulled at 13:11 of the second period after giving up five goals on just 15 shots.

"I certainly didn't come up with the big save I needed," he said. "I thought I could have had Mario's first goal, and that set the tone for the rest of the night with some funny bounces that happened to go into the net and it just snowballed from there."

The Penguins broke the game open with a pair of power-play goals late in the first period.

Pittsburgh went ahead 2-1 at 14:22 on a power-play goal from Jan Hrdina, who redirected a blue-line blast from Alexei Kovalev past Mike Dunham for his 13th goal. Steve McKenna made it 3-1 with another power-play goal at 16:46.

"The power play is a big part of our game," Hrdina said. "We have won many games just because of the power play."

Moments after Rangers captain Mark Messier hit the post on a short-handed 2-on-1, McKenna converted Milan Kraft's rebound for his second goal of the season.

"When we came back and scored that goal to make it 3-1 you could see they got down a little bit," Lemieux said. "When you don't have confidence in this game, it's hard to play well."

Michal Sivek scored his first of the season off a brilliant breakout pass from Kovalev at 8:07 of the second to give Pittsburgh a 4-1 lead.

Michal Rozsival scored his second goal on a 4-on-4 at 1:33 for a 5-1 Pittsburgh lead, and Wayne Primeau closed the scoring at 18:44 of the third.

Messier made it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 13:20 when he redirected a shot from Vladimir Malakhov past Johan Hedberg for his 12th of the season.

Lemieux has 63 points this season, well ahead of Boston's Joe Thornton and Kovalev who have not yet reached 50.

Game notes
The Penguins also changed goalies in the second period as Jean-Sebastien Aubin took over for Hedberg at 17:53. ... Rangers D Cory Cross, recently acquired by New York, played his 500th NHL game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press