Penguins put premium on fast start
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New York • The Pittsburgh Penguins have four points atop the Atlantic Division. The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have none at the bottom.

No, it isn't too early to keep an eye on the standings in this lockout-induced, 48-game sprint to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

James Neal scored twice, linemate Evgeni Malkin had three assists, and the Penguins chased reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist from the net in the second period of a 6-3 victory over the Rangers in New York's home opener on Sunday night.

The Penguins went into Philadelphia and New York on back-to-back days to open the season and came out with two wins.

"You don't want to get behind the eight-ball and all of a sudden be chasing teams," Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "In this season, somebody who you are chasing is always going to be playing somebody you might be chasing, too. You might not be able to gain any ground, so you don't want to be in that position."

Neal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Niskanen scored in the first period, and Malkin set up Pascal Dupuis in the second to push Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1 and drive Lundqvist to the bench.