NEW YORK (AP) – With one of their top players out for several weeks, the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to need some help to make the playoffs.
Conor Sheary did his part on Sunday.
Sheary scored twice and Matt Cullen had the go-ahead goal in the third period and the short-handed Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-3.
“He’s a terrific kid,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “You can see his offensive instincts, you see his vision when he has the puck.”
Pittsburgh entered the game in eighth place and in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 78 points.
The Penguins will be out with star Evgeni Malkin, who is out six to eight weeks after suffering an upper-body injury in Friday’s win over Columbus. He is second on the team with 27 goals and 31 assists in 57 games.
“It’s a good opportunity for a lot of guys to get some secondary scoring to get some more minutes when a top guy like that goes down.” Sheary said. “Obviously, it’s unfortunate for the team as whole, losing a player like that, but it’s good for younger guys and guys who don’t get that many minutes.”
Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury, who won his 350th career game Friday, made 24 saves for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby added an empty-netter for his 29th of the season.
Derick Brassard scored his team-leading 25th goal for the Rangers. Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider also scored and Derek Stepan had two assists.
With the game tied 3-3, Cullen sent the puck from behind the net and it deflected off defenseman Marc Staal and past Henrik Lundqvist at 11:09 of the third period.
“We got on the puck and were kind of able to possess the puck down low and I kind of got tripped up front and tried to make a play out front and sometimes you get those lucky bounces,” Cullen said. “You will take every one.”
McDonagh scored on a wraparound at 5:04 of the third for his ninth of the season to tie it at 3. Less than a half-minute later, Fleury stopped Rick Nash on a breakaway.
Lundqvist, who returned Saturday after missing three games with a neck injury, made 28 saves.
“We did a lot of good things, it’s just today I feel like the puck was bouncing their way more than our way,” Lundqvist said. “The fourth one (Pittsburgh goal) was a really tough one.”
The Penguins dominated the second period, outshooting the Rangers 10-2.
Sheary, recalled from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton late Saturday, scored both of his goals in the period. First, he deflected Justin Schultz’s point shot past Lundqvist at 7:30.
After the Rangers tied it on Brassard’s power-play goal 89 seconds later, Sheary eluded Rangers forward Kevin Hayes and scored on a breakaway at 15:55 to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Coming off Saturday’s overtime loss to Detroit, the Rangers got off to a fast start, outshooting the Penguins 13-3 in the first 11 minutes.
But Fleury kept the game scoreless until Pittsburgh opened the scoring less than minute later.
Lundqvist made a save on Crosby’s one-timer, but Hornqvist took the rebound and shot from behind the net and banked it off the Rangers goalie and into the net for a power-play goal at 11:56 of the period.
“It’s a game where they made us pay for the opportunities we gave them,” McDonagh said. “Against a skilled team with their firepower, you can’t give them too many looks and they made us pay.”
The Rangers tied it at 18:06 when Kevin Klein started the rush into the Penguins zone and sent a pass to Stepan, who passed to Kreider for a tap-in at 18:06 for his 16th of the season.
Dominik Simon made his NHL debut for the Penguins. Malkin missed 10 games earlier this season with an undisclosed injury. The team went 5-4-1 in his absence and Pittsburgh is 70-45-9 with Malkin out of the lineup during his 10-year career. … Lundqvist suffered a neck injury in a collision with Ryan McDonagh in the previous meeting with the Penguins on March 3. … Forward Tanner Glass missed the game because of an upper-body injury suffered in Saturday’s loss to Detroit. … Former New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl was in attendance.