NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a two-goal lead in the third period and allowed a three-on-none in overtime, but they did just enough to break a four-game losing streak.
Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby scored in a shootout as the Penguins slipped past the New York Rangers 4-3 on Friday night at Madison Square Garden to move within one point of the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan.
When Bryan Rust scored to make it 3-1 with 11:10 left in the game, the Penguins looked well on their way to a convincing win. But Rick Nash cut the lead in half two minutes later and Chris Kreider tied the score at 3 with 11.6 seconds left and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on the bench for an extra skater.
The Rangers had a golden opportunity to win the game in overtime when Kevin Klein and Michael Grabner led a three-on-none charge, but Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, who stopped 32 shots, pushed across to rob Grabner after Klein made a late pass to the right side.
The defending champion Penguins (47-19-11) still have a chance to open the playoffs with home-ice advantage in the first round if they can pass the Blue Jackets in their final five games.
"It would be nice," said Crosby, who scored his league-leading 43rd goal and assisted on Jake Guentzel's goal 39 seconds into the second period. "We've done some good things over the course of the year, played through a lot of different guys being out, so it would be nice to have that home-ice advantage. Hopefully, we can keep going here."
After a scoreless first period, Guentzel and Crosby gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead with second-period goals. Guentzel had a tap-in as a result of cross-ice passes from Kessel to Crosby, then Crosby to Guentzel on the doorstep. But Crosby had to get creative on his goal that doubled the lead.
Crosby had the puck down near the goal line and found a way to bank the puck off Lundqvist's head and into the net.
"That's why he has 43 goals," said Lundqvist, who stopped Conor Sheary on a breakaway late in the third period to keep the Rangers within 3-2. "He was shooting for my head. If it hit my head, I can't really stop it with it my head. I need to get my head behind the post or something. He surprised me."
"There's just a little bit of room there," Crosby said. "Sometimes if you get a piece of him, you get a chance it goes it. Most times, it doesn't. Fortunately, it went in tonight."
The Rangers (46-26-6) have lost eight straight at home and five of six overall but showed resolve while down two goals on two occasions. Nick Holden scored a power-play goal late in the second period to send the Rangers to the second intermission down 2-1 while Nash and Kreider helped get the team a point with their third-period goals.
No matter what they do, the Rangers are just about guaranteed to finish in the first wild-card spot, so there's not much in the way of motivation for them during the rest of the regular season. But they showed some resolve that had been lacking in recent weeks.
"We're down by two and we kept pushing," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Hank gave us a chance. He made some huge saves after they made it 3-1. Our overall game five-on-five, both defensively and offensively, I liked again tonight. Guys competed hard and it was a good hockey game."
The Penguins were without several key players and have been for a while and may not get them all back until the playoffs. But when they were tested in a crucial game, enough players responded to get the win.
"I thought our guys stuck with it and didn't get deflated," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We kept playing hard and found a way to win. We would have liked to finish it in regulation, but it didn't happen that way. We're pleased to get the two points."
NOTES: Penguins D Ron Hainsey and LW Jake Guentzel were back in the lineup after extended injury absences due to injury. ... Penguins C Evgeni Malkin missed his eighth straight game with a shoulder injury, although he has been skating on his own. ... Rangers D Ryan McDonagh (undisclosed) did not play. Coach Alain Vigneault said his captain's injury wasn't serious. ... Rangers LW Jimmy Vesey was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The rookie has just one goal and two assists in his past 15 games.