Mar. 15, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after a goal is scored by left wing Matt Cooke (not pictured) during the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Penguins Vs. Rangers: Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang Return And Pittsburgh Wins Tenth Straight

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers for the third straight time, winning 5-2 and welcoming back Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.

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Penguins Vs. Rangers Recap: Sidney Crosby And Kris Letang Return, Pittsburgh Wins Tenth In A Row

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their tenth straight game on Thursday night, defeating the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers 5-2 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have been in first for 79 days, but the red hot Pens are now just four points behind them in the standings and race for first place.

The highlight of the game was simply the return of stars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. Both logged significant ice time and added points in the third period as the Pens pulled away for the win. The Rangers started to apply heavy pressure at the end of the second period and while the Pens enjoyed a one-goal lead, it looked like New York had all the momentum heading into the final 20 minutes.

But Crosby would feed Chris Kunitz for a Pittsburgh score just three minutes into the third to bump the lead back to two goals. Pascal Dupuis would score three and a half minutes later to really remove all doubt, and Letang was credited with the assist on that strike. Letang was +5 on the night, while Crosby was +3. With the Pens already on fire, their return has to have Pittsburgh fans ecstatic as the stretch run heats up.

The Pens now head to New Jersey on Saturday looking to extend the win streak against the Devils.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Penguins, visit Pensburgh. For the opponent's perspective, check out Blueshirt Banter. Check out SB Nation's NHL news hub for all your hockey news as the playoffs approach.

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Penguins Vs. Rangers Score Update: Penguins Take 3-2 Lead To Third Period

The Pittsburgh Penguins added two goals in the second period of their matchup with first-place New York on Thursday and took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. The Pens scored both in the first three minutes of the second period to jump out to a two-goal lead. Evgeni Malkin scored his 39th of the season, teaming up with James Neal again to put the Pens back in front. Then, a more unlikely goal came from Matt Cooke who added his second of the night to spot Marc-Andre Fleury the 3-1 advantage. Cooke was assisted by Tyler Kennedy on both goals and he heads to the third period looking for his first career hat trick.

The Rangers would response late and get right back in it, as Marian Gaborik would do the damage. Brooks Orpik got caught deep in the zone in front of the net, and Gaborik skated right into a wide open space out front, taking a backhand pass from Brad Richards to beat Fleury over his right shoulder with a quick wrist shot for his 35th goal of the year.

New York ramped up the pressure over the final half of the second period and looked to be taking the momentum into the third period until a late high sticking penalty sent Stu Bickel to the box with a double minor, with blood gushing from Jordan Staal's face. A Chris Kunitz slashing penalty for breaking a stick in front of the net will result in four-on-four hockey for another 1:38 when the third period starts.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Penguins, visit Pensburgh. For the opponent's perspective, check out Blueshirt Banter. Check out SB Nation's NHL news hub for all your hockey news as the playoffs approach.

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Penguins Vs. Rangers: Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang To Return

Thursday night in New York, Sidney Crosby returns to action for the first time since Dec. 5.

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