Pens hope to bounce back against Rangers
RANGERS (38-14-5) at PENGUINS (33-21-5)
: MSG, ROOT (HD)
: New York 7-2-1; Pittsburgh 5-4-1.
: This is the fourth of six meetings. The Rangers have taken two of three, but the Penguins won 4-1 on Jan. 19 in their most recent matchup.
: The Rangers have been sitting pretty atop the Atlantic Division for weeks, but the Penguins could cut into their 10-point deficit starting with this game. The teams play three more times over the final 20-plus games, and Evgeni Malkin
plays like he did in their previous meeting (2 goals), things could get interesting.
: They've won 5 of 6 and are coming off a 3-2 OT victory against the Blue Jackets on Sunday night. Michael Del Zotto had a pair of assists, including one on Derek Stepan's goal in overtime.
The Rangers struggled to get two points against the League's 30th-place team, and the challenge awaiting them in Pittsburgh is sure to be greater.
"It's always a challenge to face that team," said Henrik Lundqvist, who is 8-1-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and three shutouts in his last nine games. "They're so good offensively. They have so many weapons, and obviously their top guys are really good. It's going to be a challenge, but it's a fun challenge."
: Since ripping off eight straight wins to close January, this month has been far more troublesome. A 6-2 loss in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon made them 4-4-1 in February. The Penguins have allowed 19 goals in their last five games.
Tuesday's game against the Rangers starts a three-game homestand and is the Penguins' first chance to wash the taste of the Sabres' loss from their mouths.
"It was a letdown for our team," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We knew exactly what team we were playing and what they could do and how they were going to play. We didn't execute and play that way. And early on, we gave up good opportunities, which they capitalized."
: In nine games this month, Evgeni Malkin
has 5 goals and 7 assists for the Penguins.
: Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko (undisclosed) said he is day-to-day. … Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy
is out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain.
: This is the latest the Rangers have been in first in the Eastern Conference since the 1995-96 season, when they held the top spot through games played on Mar. 15, 1996. … Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
has appeared in all but nine of the Penguins' 59 games this season.
: "I'm just so comfortable in Pittsburgh. With the commitment the organization is going to give me, it couldn't be a better feeling. I couldn't find a better spot. Pittsburgh is where I wanted to be." -- James Neal to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on signing his six-year, $30 million contract over the weekend