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Penguins try to lock up 4th in East

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

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Penguins try to lock up 4th in East
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

RANGERS (51-22-7) at PENGUINS (49-25-6)


Last 10:
New York 7-3-0; Pittsburgh 5-4-1

Season Series:
This is the sixth and final meeting between the teams this season. The Penguins lead the series 3-2-0 and have won the last three games. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have led the way for the Penguins combining for six goals and six assists in the five games, while Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik have combined for four goals and seven assists.

Big Story: The Rangers took a bit of the drama out of this game by clinching the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night with a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia. There may not be a division title on the line, but the two teams are still clawing for every point as the Rangers are locked in a heated race for the Presidents' Trophy and the Penguins are trying to lock up home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by finishing fourth.

Team Scope:

The Rangers overcame a mid-March swoon that saw them drop three of five games before reeling off five victories in their next six to set themselves up for an opportunity to clinch the division and conference titles on Tuesday night against the Flyers.

Ryan McDonagh, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, and Ryan Callahan scored first-period goals to stake the Rangers to a 4-0 lead. All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did the rest, making 37 saves in the 5-3 victory.

"I love this; what a season," Richards said. "This is a great time of year. Yes, it's going to be a grind, it always is, but we have a good team here, and we have the right pieces in place. It's up to us."

Penguins: The Penguins looked invincible as they rolled to a 13-0-1 record between Feb. 21 and March 22, but that all changed following an 8-4 loss to the Senators on March 23 that kicked off a 2-4-0 run that saw the Penguins play some very uncharacteristically sloppy hockey. They were able to get back on track Tuesday night in Boston as they withstood a Bruins' barrage that tied the game at 2-2, before rolling to a 5-3 victory on the strength of two goals from Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins' power play, which has gone 5-for-12 in their last three games, was a difference maker against the Bruins, as the Penguins picked up two tallies with the extra-man.

"A lot of the times that's the difference in hockey games when you're able to score on the power play with the way that we do such a great job killing penalties," Crosby said. "That's a big boost if we can score on the power play."

Who's Hot: Gaborik has scored points in six consecutive games, scoring six goals and adding four assists. He's reached the 40-goal mark for the second time in three seasons with New York. … Penguins' forward Pascal Dupuis is riding a 15-game points streak in which he has nine goals and 11 assists. The streak is the longest by any player this season.

Injury Report: The Penguins' Ben Lovejoy is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery, Joe Vitale (upper body), Matt Niskanen (undisclosed), and Steve Sullivan (undisclosed) are all questionable. … For the Rangers, Michael Sauer is on injured reserve with a concussion, while defenseman Steve Eminger (sprained right ankle), and forward Mats Zuccarello (left wrist surgery) are out indefinitely.

Stat Pack:
Crosby has 34-points (seven goals, 27 assists) in just 20 games this season. His 1.7 points per game is the highest single-season total of his career. ... The Rangers are 21-3-3 when leading after the first period this season. This is also the latest that the Rangers have held the top spot in the Eastern Conference since their Stanley Cup-winning season of 1994.

Puck Drop:
James Neal, who scored just one goal last season upon joining the Penguins in February 2011, notched his 40th of the season in Boston.

"It feels good," Neal told the team's website. "It's been great being able to play with [Evgeni Malkin] and [Chris Kunitz]. It's been a lot of fun."

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 05 '12 NYR 2 at PIT 5 R. Park
Mar 15 '12 PIT 5 at NYR 2 M. Cooke
Feb 21 '12 NYR 0 at PIT 2 E. Malkin
Jan 19 '12 PIT 4 at NYR 1 R. Park
Jan 06 '12 NYR 3 at PIT 1 B. Dubinsky
Nov 29 '11 PIT 3 at NYR 4 M. Gaborik
M. Gaborik81413576+1634107
B. Richards81254166+02079
R. Callahan75292554-759139
D. Stepan81173451+152244
M. Del Zotto76103141+193612
C. Hagelin63142438+222402
A. Anisimov78162036+133441
B. Dubinsky76102333+1611001
R. McDonagh8172532+264201
D. Girardi8152429+142012
B. Boyle81101525+25702
R. Fedotenko7291120-71611
A. Stralman5221618+112000
B. Prust8151217-115602
J. Mitchell6251116+10800
S. Bickel50088+110800
J. Woywitka27156+2800
M. Rupp59415-19702
M. Staal45235-51610
S. Eminger42235+02800
E. Christensen20145+0210
S. Avery15303+22101
M. Zuccarello10213+0611
M. Sauer19123+92100
W. Wolski9033-2200
T. Erixon18022-2800
J. Scott35011-15300
A. Deveaux9011+32900
K. Newbury7000-12400
B. Bell1000-1000
H. Lundqvist6139-17-511917361.93.931
M. Biron2112-6-2505192.46.904
E. Malkin744958107+1668129
J. Neal80404181+687184
C. Kunitz81253459+144963
P. Dupuis81243458+183408
J. Staal61252348+113450
S. Sullivan79173148-32051
K. Letang50103141+193243
M. Cooke81191938+54414
S. Crosby2172835+131412
T. Kennedy59112233+102901
P. Martin7222527+71800
M. Niskanen7541721+94730
C. Adams8151318-63400
B. Orpik7221618+195700
D. Engelland7241317+115601
A. Asham6351015-67600
R. Park537714-11204
J. Vitale6741014-55101
Z. Michalek6121113-12400
C. O'Reilly33257-11410
D. Jeffrey26426-4200
B. Lovejoy34145+31300
S. Despres18134+51010
A. Picard17044+4400
J. Williams8112+1400
E. Tangradi24022-41600
M. Letestu11011-6200
B. Strait8011-1200
C. Sneep1011+1000
S. MacIntyre11000+0400
R. Bortuzzo6000+1200
C. McDonald5000+0000
M. Fleury6642-17-415217532.36.913
B. Johnson155-7-2413533.14.884
B. Thiessen53-1-0161133.72.858