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Pens break game open with pair of power-play goals

12/27/2002

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

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.

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