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Crosby ends 13-game scoring drought as Penguins blank Rangers

AP

Sidney Crosby scored his first goal, and Marc-Andre Fleury posted his second straight shutout.

The New York Rangers’ power play still is proving to be nothing more than a problem for the Broadway Blueshirts.

So it is no surprise the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken control of an Eastern Conference semifinal that suddenly seems one-sided.

Crosby snapped a 13-game playoff goal drought in breaking a second-period scoreless tie, Jussi Jokinen added a goal, and Fleury turned aside 35 shots in a 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night.

“The main thing is that you get chances and that you are out there creating things, making it tough on them,” Crosby said. “That’s the first step. Eventually you trust that it will go in.”

Coupled with Fleury’s 22 saves in a 3-0 victory one night earlier in Pittsburgh, the Penguins have reclaimed home-ice advantage and lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Fleury has 51 career postseason wins and a team-record eight shutouts.

“I don’t think there was any question he was the best player on the ice,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said of Fleury.

It is the first time the Rangers have been shut out in consecutive playoff games since the 1937 Stanley Cup finals against Detroit.

New York’s futile power play had already slowed down the offense, but now the Rangers can’t score at all. They were 0-for-5 with the advantage Monday, pushing their streak to 34 failed opportunities.

“You might be frustrated right now, but it does no good,” Rangers forward Brad Richards said. “We are in the middle of a series, and out of those three games, we played two real good ones.”

New York hasn’t scored since winning the opener in overtime. Game 4 is Wednesday in New York.

Henrik Lundqvist made 13 saves for the Rangers, who played for the fifth time in seven days. They have consecutive losses in these playoffs for the first time.

“We tried real hard. We were forced to play a stupid schedule,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “I am real proud of how our guys handled it.

“We put our best foot forward in each and every game. Now we’ve got a full day to recover.”

The tide turned in Pittsburgh’s favor in the second period for the third straight game.

New York had 2:15 remaining on a 4-minute power play that began in the first, but couldn’t cash in. To make matters worse for the Rangers, Crosby took a long stretch pass from defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, outraced Marc Staal, and beat Lundqvist between the pads from the left circle 19 seconds after James Neal left the penalty box. It was Crosby’s 41st career playoff goal.

The Penguins struck for their second goal right after killing another penalty. Jokinen jumped out of the box and got to a loose puck in the neutral zone after Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello failed to connect on a backward pass in the Pittsburgh end.

Jokinen came in alone and scored his fifth of the playoffs with 4:40 left in the second — 8 seconds after his penalty ended.

“The Jokinen one, just stepping out of the box and finding his way onto that puck, and making it 2-0. That obviously is a tough pill to swallow,” Bylsma said of the Rangers.

New York was suddenly down by two and had the weight of its anemic power play enveloping the team even more. During the Rangers’ last advantage in the second period, the Madison Square Garden crowd implored them to “Shoot the puck!” They did, but to no avail.

New York led 26-14 in shots through two periods, yet trailed by two.

“I am happy about our whole team,” Vigneault said. “We played a real strong game. That is one of the best two-way teams in the league.”

Despite the loss, Lundqvist remained upbeat.

“It’s the first to four wins,” Lundqvist said. “We will take a deep breath here and get ready for Wednesday.

“That’s going to be a very important game for us. This is definitely not over.”

Kings 3, Ducks 1

In Anaheim, Jonathan Quick made 36 saves, Marian Gaborik scored his third goal in two games, and Los Angeles beat the hosts to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Alec Martinez also scored for the Kings, who opened their first playoff series against their local rivals with two victories at a road arena packed with their own fans. The Ducks’ faithful had almost nothing to cheer during a remarkable effort by the NHL’s best defensive team.

“It doesn’t even feel like being on the road,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. “We played really good in this building in the regular season. It was the same for us tonight.”

Game 3 is Thursday at Staples Center.

Dwight King added an empty-net goal for the Kings, who have won six straight postseason games and are halfway to their third straight trip to the Western Conference finals. Less than two weeks ago, Los Angeles was down 0-3 in its first-round series against San Jose.

The Kings’ defense is just that good — and they’re also scoring just enough goals to beat even the high-powered Ducks.

“We could only dream of this, really,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who played more than 26 minutes. “They might say we don’t deserve it, but we won two games here, and that was our goal.”

Los Angeles didn’t need any last-minute heroics from Gaborik, who scored in the opening minute instead. Martinez added another first-period goal, and King scored after a bad pass by Cam Fowler with an extra Anaheim attacker.

NHL postseason scoring leader Anze Kopitar had another assist for the Kings, who followed up their overtime victory in the opening game of the first postseason Freeway Faceoff with a methodical defensive performance against the high-flying Ducks.

Los Angeles managed just nine shots in the final two periods, but Quick comfortably sat on a one-goal lead for more than 46 scoreless minutes until King’s empty-netter.

“We found a way to squeak one out tonight because we have the best goalie in the world,” captain Dustin Brown said.

Patrick Maroon scored a power-play goal and Jonas Hiller stopped 14 shots for the Ducks, who couldn’t crack the Kings’ NHL-best defense despite controlling play for long stretches.

The Kings played without injured defensemen Robyn Regehr and Willie Mitchell, yet still kept the Ducks’ offensive stars largely on the perimeter. Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf was held to one assist, while Corey Perry still hasn’t scored a point in the series.

“I’m ticked off right now,” Getzlaf said. “We’re in playoff time now, and there are no excuses for anything. We’ve got to be better, I’ve got to be better, and I expect my group to respond.”