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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

by Brian Compton

The Boston Bruins are still trying to find their way this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins added another big piece to a puzzle general manager Jim Rutherford is trying to put together with hopes of delivering their first Stanley Cup since 2009.

Boston (19-15-6) has earned at least one point in four straight games, but it has lost three in a row (1-0-3). Pittsburgh (24-10-5), which acquired left wing David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers last Friday, is tied with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division.


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The Bruins will try to get back on track when they face the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Consol Energy Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the sizzling New York Rangers will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (NBCSN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Behind the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and a rejuvenated power play, the Rangers (21-11-4) have won nine of their past 10 games. Anaheim (26-9-6) has won 20 games by one goal this season.

Here are five things to watch in the two Wednesday Night Rivalry games:

1. Perron's a Penguin

The Penguins are doing everything they can to avoid another disappointment in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, as evidenced by their acquisition of Perron from the Oilers in exchange for forward Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Playing on a line with Sidney Crosby, Perron scored in his Penguins debut Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. At practice Tuesday, Perron was skating on the first power-play unit that is normally reserved for Patric Hornqvist, who is out because of a lower-body injury.

"We like the right-hand shot in the slot," coach Mike Johnston told the Penguins website. "With Perron, that gives us a right-hand shot in the slot."

Perron, 26, scored a career-high 28 goals and 57 points for Edmonton last season. He has 275 points (118 goals, 157 assists) in 457 games.

2. Pastrnak rejoins Bruins

Left wing David Pastrnak was back at TD Garden on Tuesday after being recalled from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. A first-round pick (No. 25) last June, the 18-year-old has 10 goals and 17 assists in 24 AHL games.

Pastrnak had a brief stint with Boston earlier this season; he had one assist in five games from Nov. 24-Dec. 4. He played for the Czech Republic at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and led his team with seven points (one goal, six assists). Pastrnak will accompany the Bruins to Pittsburgh, so there's a chance he'll be in the lineup Wednesday.

"I'm excited to be here," Pastrnak said after practice Tuesday. "Hopefully I have a second shot to be here with the guys."

3. Martin is close to returning

Penguins defenseman Paul Martin has missed the past eight games because of an undisclosed injury, but he practiced Tuesday and hopes to be back in the lineup shortly. The 33-year-old has been skating the past few days, either with the Penguins' staff or teammates.

"I feel good, I feel great today," Martin said, according to the Penguins website. "The last three or four days I haven't had any issues. My focus is on [Wednesday] and with the option of playing if everything checks out well today."

A steady presence on Pittsburgh's blue line, Martin has one goal and six assists in 31 games this season.

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 18-8-3
GAA: 2.35 | SVP: .914
4. Lundqvist, Rangers are rolling

Lundqvist will be the first to tell you he got off to somewhat of a rough start this season, but the Rangers' No. 1 goaltender earned his 18th win in a 6-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Lundqvist, who made 24 saves, is 9-1-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his past 10 games.

New York has won 14 of its past 18 games and is one point behind the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers are 20-8-4 in their past 32 games.

"I think over the 10 years I've been here, October has never really been my month," Lundqvist said. "If you take away Game 2 or 3 [of the season], I don't think it's been that bad. It was a couple of games early on. I was a little bit up and down, but I think we were up and down as a team, and a lot of times that goes hand in hand. The most important thing is we're moving in the right direction as a group. We're getting closer to where we need to be."

5. Ducks PK vs. Rangers PP

The Ducks enter Wednesday with the NHL's 21st-ranked penalty kill, so they know they have their work cut out of them against the Rangers, who scored three power-play goals in 2:32 against Buffalo on Saturday. New York has scored at least one power-play goal in five consecutive games (8-for-18) and in seven of its past eight (10-for-26).

"The PK is funny," forward Andrew Cogliano told the Ducks website on Tuesday. "Everyone likes to look at the percentages, but once you get a couple of goals scored on you, which is going to happen from time to time, it really puts your percentage low and it's tough to get that back. We need to focus more on not looking at the overall [rankings] and just getting back to what we were doing because it was helping us win games."


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