Rangers (51-22-7, 109 pts) @ Penguins (49-25-6, 104 pts)
MORNING SKATE BUZZ
PITTSBURGH — Defenseman Matt Niskanen is not participating in the morning skate and indications are Niskanen is expected to be held out of the final two regular season games. In regards to his availability for the playoffs, the Penguins have yet to reveal the extent of Niskanen’s injury. Niskanen is believed to have reaggravated a shoulder injury in Tuesday night’s game, an injury that previously kept him out of a handful of games. Brian Strait will take his spot in the lineup.
Meanwhile, Steve Sullivan’s status is believed to be up in the air tonight.
Sullivan is not participating in the morning skate and I’m told he’s considered iffy for tonight’s game due to a lower body injury. A team source told me Sullivan will be a coaches decision.
Eric Tangradi skated on the left side with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis, replacing Sullivan on the line.
Center Joe Vitale is skating this morning, after taking a Zdeno Chara puck to the face Tuesday night. He should play.
In addition to Sullivan and Niskanen, James Neal is also not skating.
MORNING SKATE LINES
Kunitz – Malkin – Park
Tangradi – Crosby – Dupuis
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Asham – Vitale – Adams
Dustin Jeffrey skated as the extra forward
***The Penguins are expecting to see Marty Biron in goal, with Henrik Lundqvist expected to get the night off after the Rangers locked up the top seed Tuesday night. “It is a special moment,” Marian Gaborik said about the Rangers winning the conference, via Newyorkrangers.com “To win the division and the conference is definitely good, and it shows that all year long we have been consistent. We don’t want to let up. We want to tune up for the playoffs.”
***Marty Biron has not played since March 15th in a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh, and he’s 2-4-1 with a 4.07 goals-against average in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh.
***Pittsburgh’s magic number to clinch home ice in the first round is two points. The Flyers host Buffalo tonight.