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Posted On Thursday, 04.23.2015 / 1:49 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins forward Malkin struggling while playing hurt

PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby is familiar with Evgeni Malkin's position.

A year ago, Crosby was criticized throughout the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs for his lack of production, partially resulting in the Pittsburgh Penguins' Eastern Conference Second Round series loss after leading the New York Rangers 3-1. After being held scoreless for a third consecutive game in Pittsburgh's 2-1 Game 7 loss, it was announced Crosby had been playing with a wrist injury.

Jump ahead to the Penguins' best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Rangers, which it trails 3-1, and it is Malkin who has struggled to score while battling an undisclosed injury.

Game 5 will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, MSG).

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 12:10 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins after better, faster start in Game 4

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy thinks there are three things the his team must do to avoid another slow start against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

"We need to be mentally focused, we need to come out and win battles, and we need to play smart," Lovejoy said. "Last game we didn't do those things. We were turning pucks over, which led to them being able to utilize their quick-strike offense. We weren't winning battles.

"We came out maybe with our brains turned off."

Pittsburgh, which trails the best-of-7 series 2-1, will attempt to move that switch to the on position in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2, MSG, ROOT).

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Posted On Monday, 04.20.2015 / 11:55 AM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins likely to ice same lineup in Game 3

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup will most likely remain the same when they face the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round Series.

Defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Christian Ehrhoff, who are each recovering from upper-body injuries, will most likely miss a third game to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pouliot was the first skater on the ice for Pittsburgh's Monday morning skate, but practiced alongside defenseman Scott Harrington on a fourth pairing.

Ehrhoff, who had practiced recently, did not participate in the skate and might not return in the near future.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.19.2015 / 6:58 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Rangers must match Penguins' intensity in Game 3

PITTSBURGH – The New York Rangers will attempt to raise their level of desperation in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, MSG, ROOT).

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 after the Rangers lost 4-3 in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. While Pittsburgh's competiveness seemed to elevate from its 2-1 loss in Game 1 on Thursday, the Rangers felt they did not match the Penguins’ elevated game and feel they need to in order to reclaim home-ice advantage.

"I think [the Penguins] probably had it consistently throughout the game," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "They were a lot quicker on their sticks, moving their feet on loose pucks, it translated to them having the puck more. As we said after the game, you could see we spent some more time in our zone than we'd like to. We didn't get to the offensive zone as much as we'd like to. So, it's something we have to get back to.

"Moving our feet a little bit and getting a hold of a puck first, before we start anticipating our next play."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.19.2015 / 3:25 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins want to avoid penalties against Rangers

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins want to avoid overconfidence after evening their Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday against the New York Rangers.

The Penguins earned a 4-3 victory in Game 2 tie the best-of-7 series at 1-1 before coming back to Pittsburgh for the next two games. Still, the Penguins think they were far from perfect through the first two games and are looking to improve in one specific area starting Monday in Game 3 at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA, MSG, ROOT).

“We need to stay out of the penalty box,” forward Chris Kunitz said. “That’s the huge thing that really disrupts our flow of the game. We like our game 5-on-5 and we want to keep the puck away from their speedy wingers and their D making plays. But I think if you can play that model where the next guy over the boards goes and do whatever you can then get off the ice, we should have a recipe for success.

“I think a 1-1 series, it’s a long way to go to win three more games. They’re the best team in the League for a reason. They play hard. They adjust well. They play well on the road. We can’t be thinking we’re ahead in this series at all.”

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 1:30 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins won't have Ehrhoff, Pouliot for opener

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot will not be available against the New York Rangers in the series opener Thursday.

Ehrhoff and Pouliot, who each practiced Wednesday, are recovering from upper-body injuries that will force them to miss Game 1 of Pittsburgh's Eastern Conference First Round series against New York at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG). Ehrhoff has practiced with full contact the past two days and seems closer to returning than Pouliot.

"It was nice to get out on the ice again with the guys the last few days," Ehrhoff said. "Unfortunately, I'm not ready to go for Game 1, but it's a day-to-day thing and hopefully it keeps progressing in the right direction. … It's been tough sitting on the sidelines watching the guys battling it out the past few weeks, but I'm glad we're here now.

"Like I said, hopefully I keep progressing in the right direction and help the team soon."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 2:42 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Rangers-Penguins series blog

Penguins' Wilson recalled from AHL to add depth

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have attempted to fill their injury-plagued roster with a few American Hockey League call-ups.

Pittsburgh recalled forward Scott Wilson from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Tuesday, a day after calling up defensemen Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin, prior to Game 1 of its Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG).

Wilson's addition is expected to add depth to an offense that averaged 1.83 goals per game in its final six regular-season games despite holding early leads and averaging 35.3 shots per game.

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Posted On Friday, 04.10.2015 / 12:37 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins will have to play with five defensemen again Friday when they face the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins will be without defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who sustained an upper-body injury against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, which will leave them short one defenseman for a second stint late in the season. Pittsburgh previously played with five defensemen after Kris Letang sustained a concussion March 28 against the Arizona Coyotes.

Defenseman Taylor Chorney was recalled April 3 from the American Hockey League to alleviate Pittsburgh’s predicament, but with Pouliot out, the Penguins will be short along the blue line once again. The Penguins are unable to recall another defenseman to replace Pouliot because they are too close to the salary cap ceiling.

The Penguins can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a ninth-straight season with a victory against the Islanders, but they will have to be creative again with how they deploy their defensemen.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 7:43 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Penguins' Malkin out with undisclosed injury

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin will not play against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.

Malkin did not participate in warm-ups because of an unspecified injury, the Penguins announced. He missed practice Tuesday for what assistant coach Gary Agnew called a maintenance day.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 1:03 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins expect a playoff-like matchup when they face the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

Philadelphia has been eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, which has dropped the Penguins' remaining games against potential playoff opponents to two. Pittsburgh is welcoming those two games, against the Ottawa Senators on April 7 and New York Islanders on April 10, expecting to experience the style of low-scoring, defensive hockey required in the postseason.

"Our games with the Flyers this year, and I know in the past, they've been real battles," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "Playoff-like hockey. It's going to be one of those. It's Rivalry Night. I know that. It's fitting that the game will probably be played like that. It's two teams that don't like each other very much and they've had a history of very good battles.

"It will be a playoff-like tune up."

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It's very special, obviously; there is draft day and then there's the day that you sign your first deal. It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I'm very honored to be able to do that."

— Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid on signing his first professional contract