PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking for their third straight win when they host the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon.
The Penguins should be well rested after a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night.
Tyler Kennedy, Jordan Staal, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Cooke and Zbynek Michalek scored for Pittsburgh.
With a 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars, the Philadelphia Flyers extended their Atlantic Division lead to six points over the Penguins. The win also clinched a playoff berth for the Flyers.
Entering Sunday’s NHL action, both the Flyers and Penguins have played 71 games. While time may be running out for the Penguins to catch the Flyers, they still have two games left against their cross-state foes. On Thursday, Pittsburgh will travel to Philadelphia and the last regular season meeting will be in Pittsburgh on March 29.
This week, the Penguins will play four games that will have a major impact on their playoff seeding.
Immediately following today’s game against the Rangers, the Penguins will head to Detroit for a matchup with the Red Wings Monday night. After playing Philadelphia on Thursday, the Pens will return home to take on the New Jersey Devils Friday night.
As for today’s game, Pittsburgh is 2-2-1 against the Rangers this season. A win would give them the regular season series win over the Blueshirts for the third straight season.
In their past 16 meetings in Pittsburgh, the Penguins hold an 11-2-3 record. However, the Rangers have won both games at the CONSOL Energy Center this season.
New York (38-30-4- 80 points) is currently clinging to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The Buffalo Sabres are only two points back, while the Carolina Hurricanes only trail the Rangers by four points.
Because of how tight the playoff race is, the Penguins will have to match New York’s desperation this afternoon.
Brandon Dubinsky is leading the Rangers with 27 assists and 47 points this season. Sniper Marian Gaborik has 21 goals and 22 assists in only 52 games, while Ryan Callahan leads the team in goals with 22.
Henrik Lundqvist (30-24-4, 2.35 GAA, .920 save percentage, nine shutouts) has been on fire this month despite posting a 5-3 record. He started the month 0-2, but has won five of his last six contests, including three in a row.
Against the Penguins, Lundqvist is 19-13-5 with a 2.42 GAA and .911 save percentage. He has also blanked the Pens twice.
For Pittsburgh, Kennedy continued his hot streak with a goal and an assist against the Senators. He now has five points (one goal, four assists) in his last two games. In seven games in March, Kennedy has two goals and five assists.
Alex Kovalev only has two points in nine games with the Penguins this season. However, in 43 career games against the Rangers, Kovalev has 20 goals and 29 assists.
Jordan Staal is another player who has stepped up in the absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
In 32 games this season, Staal has nine goals and 13 assists. According to the Penguins’ website, those 22 points are a team-high since Crosby suffered a concussion in early January.