In the previous game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15, the Rangers left the ice thinking they had won in the shootout. But after a review, Dan Boyle's goal was disallowed, the teams came back, and the Rangers lost on Brandon Sutter's score.
Monday night, it took overtime to decide a winner.
Kevin Klein's shot from the blue line went through several players and into the net at 3:45, giving the Rangers a 4-3 victory at the Garden. Klein's career-high sixth goal rescued the Rangers, who blew a two-goal lead in the final five minutes of regulation.
"It might have hit their d-man in front," said Klein, who received 13 stitches in his left ear after being cut by Zach Sill's high stick in the first period. "There were a lot of bodies and I was just trying to put it far side."
The Rangers, who have lost eight games this season after leading, took the lead in the second period on goals by J.T. Miller and Rick Nash, and made it 3-1 on Kevin Hayes' rebound with 7:02 left in regulation.
But Evgeni Malkin scored at 15:17, and 24 seconds later, Steve Downie tied it, stunning the crowd.
Henrik Lundqvist, in his first start in seven days, and the Rangers worked to protect the third-period lead, sending just one man in on the forecheck, not hesitating to clear from their zone or dump pucks in from center ice.
For most of the third period, the strategy worked. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were locked in on Sidney Crosby (one assist) all night. Lundqvist (32 saves) made a key save on Malkin.
Then Hayes, storming down ice with Nash on his right, powered to the net and his first shot was stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury, but he kept coming and his backhander gave the Rangers a two-goal lead.
But the Rangers lost control of a rebound that Lundqvist flipped out with his glove and Malkin deposited it, giving the Penguins some life. Downie's snap shot tied it.
"We were on our heels a lot of the third period," Marc Staal said. "We weren't doing a lot of things that gave us success in the first two periods. We have to learn to stay confident with the lead."
The Rangers were fairly silent in the first, when the Penguins took a 1-0 lead. With Hayes and Carl Hagelin slow on the backcheck, the Rangers lost a puck battle in midice. Crosby grabbed it and slid it to Nik Spaling, who beat Lundqvist at 12:35. It was Crosby's first point in three games against the Blueshirts this season.
The Rangers tied it in the second when Dom Moore forced a turnover by Paul Martin and Martin St. Louis scooped the puck up side and found Miller, who scored at 3:50.
Nash made it 2-1. Fleury extended his left pad to deny Nash with his skate on the doorstep, but Nash's second poke crossed the line at 8:40.
The Penguins were without Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Patric Hornqvist, Kris Letang and Olli Matta. The Rangers were missing only Chris Kreider (neck spasms). But the Rangers will take it.
"We needed it for a couple reasons, obviously for confidence, but we need the points to get back in the race," Lundqvist said.