- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Henrik Lundqvist had little help in front of him and couldn’t rescue the New York Rangers from the loss that pushed them to the brink of elimination.

That series-opening overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins less than a week ago is now a distant memory as the Rangers have dropped three straight since - including back-to-back losses at Madison Square Garden.

The Penguins can advance to the Eastern Conference finals as early as Friday night at home.

“It’s a tough feeling, a disappointing feeling,” Lundqvist said Wednesday night after the Rangers‘ 4-2 defeat. “Tonight is going to be a tough one, but tomorrow we just need to forget about it and go to Pittsburgh and look at it as just one game.”

Brandon Sutter scored a short-handed goal to break a second-period tie, and the Penguins rode that momentum to victory. They are looking to reach the East finals for the second straight year and the fourth in seven seasons.

The Rangers recorded only 15 shots in a lackluster performance after firing 35 at Marc-Andre Fleury in a 2-0 loss in Game 3. They fought the puck all night, and star forward Rick Nash wasn’t immune to that.

Nash, who leads the NHL in shots during these playoffs, hasn’t scored in New York’s 11 games. He heard loud boos when he touched the puck in the third period.

“It’s a tough situation,” said Nash, who called this the most frustrating time of his career. “It doesn’t matter what you do (in the regular season). Playoffs do. Obviously I struggled.

“It’s a battle right now. It’s ultra-frustrating.”

The Penguins have won seven of nine at the Garden and are 12-4 there since Dan Bylsma became their coach. Overall, Pittsburgh is 19-5 against the Rangers in the playoffs and 9-2 in New York.

“This is one of the best places to come in and play,” Bylsma said. “It’s a great building and we seem to always have a rivalry with the Rangers, so we don’t need that motivation for the playoffs.”

Evgeni Malkin scored 2:31 in, and Jussi Jokinen made it 3-1 at 7:02 of the third before the teams traded late goals.

The only negative for the Penguins was that Fleury allowed a goal for the first time in three games. Carl Hagelin’s tying tally in the second period was the Rangers‘ first goal in 145 minutes, 30 seconds of playing time.

Mats Zuccarello cut it to 3-2 with 6:53 left on the Rangers‘ second shot of the third, but Chris Kunitz restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal edge 57 seconds later.

Lundqvist made 23 saves.

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