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Rangers, Panarin Too Much for Penguins, 7-4



The Pittsburgh Penguins did quite a few things right Saturday afternoon.

Just not nearly enough to offset all that they did wrong.

Not when they were trying to hang with a team that is faster, deeper and more skilled.

The kind of club they could expect to face if they were to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is even less likely in the wake of their 7-4 loss to the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena than it was going into the weekend.

The loss was the Penguins’ fifth in the past six games (1-4-1) and eighth in the past 10 (2-7-1). They are 29-28-9 and trail Detroit, which holds the final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, by seven points.

New York’s offense was turbo-charged by Artemi Panarin, who scored two goals and assisted on three others.

John Ludvig, who scored the game-winner in the Penguins’ 6-3 victory over San Jose Thursday, gave them a short-lived lead at 2:36 of the opening period, throwing a shot through traffic and past Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick for his third of the season. Jeff Carter and Noel Acciari got the assists.

The Penguins have made a habit of committing costly lapses a shift or two after scoring, and it happened again in the wake of Ludvig’s goal.

The crowd was still reveling in it when Kaapo Kaako countered for the Rangers, rapping a cross-ice feed from Jimmy Vesey past Tristan Jarry from between the right circle and the crease at 3:07.

Adam Fox, one of the league’s most gifted offensive defensemen, put New York in front at 3:33, as he tossed a backhander by Jarry while cutting into the slot from the right circle.

Kaako was called for interfering with Michael Bunting at 4:37, but the Penguins were unable to generate a tying goal. It was the 14th consecutive man-advantage during which they failed to score.

The Penguins killed a slashing minor assessed to Drew O’Connor at 7:56, and pulled even about 2 1/2 minutes after he left the penalty box.

Bryan Rust got the goal, his 20th, by beating Quick from below the left circle at 12:27. Sidney Crosby, who set up Rust with a cross-ice pass, and O’Connor got the assists.

Rust has scored 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons.

New York reclaimed the lead when Upper St. Clair native Vincent Trocheck set up Panarin at the right side of the crease at 15:32 during a 2-on-1 break that was spawned by a Rust turnover in the neutral zone.

The Penguins’ power-play drought reached 15 when New York killed a holding minor Fox received at 4:45 of the second period, although Quick had to glove an absolute rocket from Evgeni Malkin above the right hash to prevent them from scoring.

Then again, the Rangers had more good scoring chances while Fox was off than the Penguins did, including one shot that caromed off the crossbar.

Lars Eller snapped the Pittsburgh Penguins’ power-play dry spell at 10:10, beating Quick from about five feet to the left of the crease for his 18th. Assists went to Michael Bunting and Rust.

The Penguins took a pair of penalties 12 seconds apart late in the period, and New York scored twice in a span of 65 seconds to take a 5-3 lead.

Panarin flipped in a Chris Kreider rebound at 16:27, after Jarry failed to control it, to make it 4-3. That goal came 12 seconds after Acciari was sent off for tripping.

Kris Letang was assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty after Panarin scored, presumably for complaining about the officiating, and Mika Zibanejad scored from between the left circle and crease at 17:32 to put New York up by two at the intermission.

K’Andre Miller drove Jarry from the game by scoring at 4:41 of the third to make it 6-3. Jarry allowed six goals on 23 shots before being replaced by Alex Nedeljkovic.

Valtteri Puustinen negated that goal by beating Quick from inside the left circle at 7:23. Reilly Smith set up the goal — Puustinen’s third of the season and first in 13 games — with a pass from the other side of the ice; Eller picked up the second assist.

Kreider closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:42.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will close out their three-game homestand by facing Detroit Sunday at 6:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.