Zibanejad forces OT, notches game winner as Rangers top Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins had this one right where they wanted it.

A 2-0 lead heading into the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, 20 minutes away from taking sole possession of first place in the volatile Metropolitan Division.

But the Rangers, who could only hope to play the role of spoiler on during Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN, did exactly that after two third-period comebacks in a 4-3 overtime win.

For the Penguins, the point was enough to move them into a tie with the Washington Capitals for first place, with Alex Ovechkin and Co. holding a game in-hand over their Metro rivals. But the Penguins won’t be looking at the silver linings after giving up 2-0 and 3-2 leads respectively in the final frame.

Pittsburgh was even gifted a glorious opportunity to break a 3-3 with 10 seconds left.

The Rangers started Alexandar Georgiev in goal, and the veteran of five NHL games nudged the net off its moorings with Pittsburgh pressing and time running down in the third. Given that it was in the final two minutes of the game, the Penguins were awarded a penalty shot.

Step up Evgeni Malkin, who was looking for No. 40 for the third time in his career. Georgiev, with an opportunity to make amends for his transgression, stuck with Malkin as he dangled in close, ultimately turning aside the attempt to force overtime.

Bryan Rust, who missed the past two games with a concussion, returned in style to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead after a scoreless first period. Riley Sheahan doubled the lead under a minute later.

Casey DeSmith wasn’t tested much during the first two periods but turned aside all 17 shots he faced through 40 minutes.

The Rangers looked like a different team in the third period. Sustained pressure forced DeSmith to make some timely saves, but the walls eventually gave way.

Chris Kreider notched his 13th followed by Jesper Fast‘s 11th to tie the game with just over five minutes to go.

Former Ranger Carl Hagelin scored just over a minute later to restore the lead for the Penguins, but the Rangers got a late power play opportunity and cashed in, with Kreider making a slick cross-ice feed to Mika Zibanejad.

And it would be Zibanejad who would have the final say in the contest, scoring at the 2:53 mark in overtime to cap off quite the comeback for the Rangers.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Pens claim Arcobello off waivers from Preds

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David Perron might soon have a familiar face in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins claimed Mark Arcobello — Perron’s former teammate in Edmonton — off waivers from Nashville on Wednesday, per ESPN.

Arcobello, 26, was acquired by the Preds on Dec. 29 from Edmonton in exchange for Derek Roy and proceeded to appear in four games for Nashville, scoring once in his team debut. Prior to his time with the Preds, Acrobello had seven goals and 12 points in 36 games for the Oilers, this after scoring four goals and 18 points in 41 games a season ago.

Though undersized — 5-foot-9, 165 pounds — “Arco” is a highly skilled player that scored routinely at the AHL level; the former Yale standout had 96 points in 89 games over parts of the last two seasons with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City, and could really benefit from playing with Pittsburgh’s offensively gifted forwards.

It’s not 100 percent clear where Arcobello will head first: Pittsburgh, or the Pens’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Per the Post-Gazette, Bryan Rust would be a potential candidate to be sent down to the farm should Pittsburgh decide to keep Arcobello at the NHL level.

Penguins get Perron from Edmonton for first rounder, Klinkhammer

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 first-round pick, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Edmonton’s season has long since been lost and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish has been under a lot of pressure to make the type of bold moves that he promised when he assumed his current position in April 2013. Pittsburgh’s top pick will likely be towards the end of the round, which is problematic given Edmonton’s poor track record in recent drafts, but it’s still an opportunity for them to breathe new life into their floundering rebuild.

Moving Perron also makes it more likely that the team will end up with Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

For the Penguins, this move will help them fill the void in their lineup that’s existed since Pascal Dupuis was sidelined indefinitely with a blood clot in his lung. Perron will likely slide into a top-six spot after the Penguins found themselves often using Bryan Rust on the same line as Sidney Crosby in recent games.

Perron has just five goals and 19 points in 38 contests this season, but he should get a boost moving from one of the worst offenses in the NHL to one of the best.

He comes with an annual cap hit of roughly $3.8 million through the 2015-16 campaign, so this is more than just a rental for Pittsburgh.

NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins?

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NBCSN will kick off its post-holiday schedule with back-to-back rivalry games tonight. The first will feature the Penguins and Capitals in Pittsburgh and start at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Say what you will about the Penguins’ performance in their recent playoff runs — certainly there’s never a shortage of discussion on that subject — but they are an imposing team on paper and if nothing else, that has translated seamlessly in the regular season for years. They certainly have been an oppressive force against the Capitals, who haven’t beaten Pittsburgh since Jan. 11, 2012.

This is not a typical game for Pittsburgh though. The core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury should be on the ice, but a combination of injuries and the mumps have decimated the supporting cast. When the Penguins played against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, 22-year-old Bryan Rust spent his sixth career NHL game skating on a line with Crosby. Rob Klinkhammer, typically a bottom-six forward with 39 points in 137 career contests, was playing alongside Malkin. Their blueline featured three rookies that each made their NHL season debut this month in Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin, and Scott Harrington.

What a time it is for blueliners Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to make their return to Pittsburgh, especially when mixed with the fact that the Capitals are on a 7-1-2 run.

“We all feel really confident right now and we’re starting to climb in the standings,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner told CSN Washington. “It’s been kind of a perfect storm with important games, the Winter Classic coming up. It’s all coming together.”

Even still, it would be wrong to count the Penguins out. Despite the adversity that they’ve faced recently, the squad has remained competitive. Tampa Bay took a 4-0 lead against Pittsburgh, but even with its depleted roster and against one of the top teams in the league, the Penguins rallied back to at least make it a 4-3 loss.

“It says an awful lot about the leadership in this group,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Guys on the bench were into the game. They were down 4-0 but were talking about getting that first goal or about getting a power-play opportunity. We had them on their heels in the third period. That’s a good building block for us.”

So while this is a good chance for the Capitals to end their skid against Pittsburgh, it still won’t be easy.

Video: Dumoulin, Rust score first NHL goals in Pens’ win

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Pittsburgh Penguins rookies Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin scored their first NHL goals Monday night in the Penguins 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The pair did something that hadn’t been seen in Pittsburgh colors since the 2006-07 season.

Rust, Pittsburgh’s 2010 third-round selection (80th overall), gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead 2:55 into the second.

Dumoulin, originally a 2009 second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes (51st overall) made it 4-1 at 7:47 of the third period.