Pittsburgh Penguins (14 – 6 – 4 (32 pts) @ New York Rangers (12 – 5 – 3 (27 pts)
When: 7:38 PM | Where: Madison Square Garden
Referees: Dean Morton #36, Dan O’Halloran #13 | Linesmen Jean Morin #97, Tim Nowak #77
The Penguins will be down two defensemen tonight as Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek have both been ruled out. Alexandre Picard and Robert Bortuzzo have been recalled and will play. Bortuzzo will be appearing in his second career NHL game…..Marc Andre Fleury (13-3-2) will get the start in goal. Fleury is tied for the NHL lead with 13 wins and is 18-10-7 with a 2.80 GAA and .907 SV% in his career vs the Rangers. Fleury is 10-1-2 in his last 13 starts……Richard Park and Steve MacIntyre are expected to be healthy scratches for the Penguins again…..
Top Storyline: Measuring Stick for Rangers — The Rangers are a team that believe they are on the cusp of contender status. New York having completed a sweep of their back-to-back set against Washington and Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday looks to further prove that tonight against the leagues best team. The Rangers shutout Philadelphia 2-0 behind 29 saves from Henrik Lundqvist on Saturday.
— Tonight is the first of six meetings this season, and the first of three at Madison Square Garden.
Last Season: New York was 4-1-1 overall, with a 1-1-1 mark at home against Pittsburgh. The Penguins struggle on the PK vs New York as the Rangers power play was 7-22 (31.8%) in the season series, while the penalty kill was 20-22 (90.9%). New York out-scored Pittsburgh, 21-15, including a 10-4 margin in the third period and
Ryan Callahan led the Rangers with five goals, nine points, four power play goals and three game-winning goals in six games, while Brandon Dubinsky tallied a team-high, six assists in the season series. Henrik Lundqvist was 4-1-1 with a 2.29 GAA and .926 Sv%.
Pittsburgh lost 4 of 6 games vs the Rangers last season with both of their wins coming at Madison Square Garden. On Nov. 29, 2010, the Penguins won 3-1 at the Garden as Kris Letang scored the game-winner and Pascal Dupuis collected a pair of assists. Pittsburgh picked up a 4-3 shootout victory on Feb. 1, 2011 as Dustin Jeffrey converted his first-ever shootout attempt to secure the win. That night the Penguins overcame a 2-0 Rangersâ lead. Chris Kunitz (3G-1A) and Dupuis (4A) led the Penguins in scoring against the Rangers. Sidney Crosby had three
assists in three games played.
The Penguins have gone 5-1 at the Garden the past two years.
Since the 2006-07 season the Penguins are 18-8-8 in 34 games against the Rangers. That number includes a 7-6-4 mark at Madison Square Garden.
— New York enters the contest with a six-game home winning streak, dating back to Oct. 31 vs. San Jose. They have been extremely difficult to play at home and have out-scored their opponents, 22-7, during the streak, having held the opposition to one goal or less in four of the six games
— New York ranks 16th with a 6-1-1 (13 pts) record at home; Pittsburgh ranks 11th with a 6-5-2 (14 pts) mark on the road
— The Rangers have posted a 2-1-0 record vs. Atlantic Division opponents; the Penguins are 4-0-0 vs. the Atlantic Division
— The Rangers are 11-1-0 when scoring first, tying for first in the NHL in wins and ranking second with a .917 win% in those games. Pittsburgh is 9-1-3 when they score first.
— The Penguins have a minus-1 differential at even strength, surrendering 46 goals and scoring 45. The Rangers have a Plus-9 differential, scoring 37 goals and giving up 28.
NYR Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 20-13-5 record with a 2.41 GAA and two shutouts in 38 career regular season games vs.
Pittsburgh. Lundqvist is 7-1-0 with a 1.74 GAA, .942 Sv% and one shutout in November.
NYR Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 22 assists and 28 points in 27 career regular season games vs. Pittsburgh. Richards has 7 points in his last 12 games….
NYR Marian Gaborik has tallied eight goals and 17 points in 18 career regular season games vs. the Penguins. Gaborik has tallied 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in the last 13 games.
NYR Derek Stepan has tallied 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in the last 12 games
NYR Ryan Callahan has tallied 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in the last 12 games, with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in the last
PIT Sidney Crosby comes into the game averaging 2.25 points per game with 9 points in four games. Crosby has recorded three multi-point games this season and Crosby has posted multiple-points in 19 of 32 games (59.3% of his games). During that span Crosby has three four point games. Crosby in his last 45 regular season games is averaging 1.66 points per game. Crosby has 52 points in 37 career games vs Rangers…..
PIT Evgeni Malkin comes into the game with four straight multi-point games, recording two points in each game. It is the third time in his career that Malkin has recorded four straight multi-point games. His career high is five straight multi-point games (Feb 2, – Feb 10, 2008). Malkin has 22 points in 17 games this season, averaging 1.29 points per game.
PIT Jordan Staal is ranked 6th in the NHL with 12 goals on the season. Staal has 6 goals in his last eight games and 11 goals in his last 17 games. Staal is on pace to establish career highs in goals (44) and points (65)…..
Crosby Makes Surge in All-Star Voting
Sidney Crosby received 132,335 votes last week, the second week of All-Star voting. Crosbyâs surge gives him a cumulative total of 206,863 votes during the first two weeks, making him the fourth-highest vote-getter among forwards. Crosby trails third-place Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators by just 2,592 votes.
Crosby, who has finished as the leading vote-getter during each of the past four All-Star Games (2011, â09, â08, â07), ranked ninth overall among forwards last week.
A trio of Crosbyâs teammates who were also elected by the fans to last yearâs All-Star Game â goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defenseman Kris Letang and forward Evgeni Malkin â also rank among the leading vote-getters at their respective positions.
Fleury, who is tied for the NHL lead with 13 wins, places second among goaltenders with 169,721 votes. He trails Bostonâs Tim Thomas by a mere 5,594 votes.
Letang, the NHLâs second-highest scoring blueliner (tied) with 19 points (3G-16A), sits third among defensemen with 195,528 votes. Letang is 18,089 votes behind second-place Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Malkin, the Penguinsâ second-leading scorer with 22 points (8G-14A), ranks 11th among forwards with 110,576 votes.
Forwards James Neal (95,454 votes) and Jordan Staal (65,728) â Pittsburghâs top-two goal scorers â are also on the ballot.
All-Star Fan Balloting will continue through Jan. 4.