New York Rangers 18-13-1 (37 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins 21-9-2 (44 pts)
SEASON SERIES 1-1
The Pittsburgh Penguins look for a quick rebound tonight after having their 12 game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers last night.
The Penguins enter tonight’s contest against the New York Rangers with a 21-9-2 (44 pts) record to rank second in the NHL and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins who have won 12 of their last 13 games, and have not lost at home since being a dealt a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Rangers on November 15.
After a slow start to the season at home, Pittsburgh is now 10-5-1 overall at home and have won 7 straight games on home ice. Since November 12, the Penguins are 8-0-1 at home.
Pittsburgh comes into tonight’s action ranked 6th in the NHL in goals per game at 3.16, 3rd in the NHL in goals against per game at 2.31.
After going 2-for-4 on the power play in last night’s loss, the Penguins are clicking at 17.2% on the power play, which is good for 15th in the NHL.
At home, the Penguins have struggled on the power play, ranking 24th in the NHL at 15.2% (10-for-66).
The New York Rangers enter tonight’s contest with a 18-13-1 (37 pts) record and are 8-4-0 in their last 12 games. New York defeated the Washington Capitals, 7-0, on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, pushing their home record to 7-8-1.
The Rangers have been a tough out on a nightly basis under head coach John Tortorella and have been extremely good on the road, posting a 11-5-0 record. They have the second most road points in the NHL.
New York ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.97 and 10th in the NHL in goals against per game at 2.59.
On the power play, the Rangers are 16th in the NHL at 17.0% and 16th on the PK at 82.3%.
The Penguins coaching staff felt Ben Lovejoy played well against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night, and Lovejoy is expected to be back in the lineup over Deryk Engelland tonight, who will be a healthy scratch.
Engelland who has been regarded as locking down the No. 6 spot weeks ago, will sit for the second time in three games.
Lovejoy is getting an opportunity to work his way back into the lineup, based on matchups.
Goaltender Brent Johnson is expected to get his first start since November 27th. Johnson leads all Penguins goaltenders with a 2.00 GAA and is 7-2-1 on the season.
The Penguins did not hold a morning skate but Dan Bylsma will speak to the media around 5:00 p.m. Chris Kunitz status is unclear at this point.
For the New York Rangers, Chris Drury will be in the lineup. He will skate on the Rangers 4th line.
REVENGE FOR THE RANGERS?
Sidney Crosby’s so-called slew foot of Ryan Callahan remains a hot topic in New York but at least publically, the Rangers are saying it’s not on their minds heading into tonight’s game.
From Arthur Staple of Newsday:
“That’s gone, I’ve forgotten about it,” Brandon Dubinsky said of the allegations of dirty play he leveled at Crosby after Crosby’ kicked Ryan Callahan’s skates out during the Penguins’ 3-1 win at the Garden on Nov. 29.
“We’ve got to focus on ourselves,” Dubinsky said. “(Crosby) is a good player, we’ve got to play him hard. They’re a tough team and we have to focus on finding a way to beat them.”
CROSBY LOOKS TO EXTEND STREAK TO 20 GAMES
Sidney Crosby tonight’s looks to extend his points streak to 20 games, which will be a career best. Crosby who leads the NHL with 26 goals and 53 points, has 20 goals – 18 assists for 38 points during his 19 game points streak.
Throw out Crosby’s first 13 games and his 20 goals and 38 points in his last 19 games, would rank second in the NHL.