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Improving Rangers host Crosby and Penguins

by Dave Lozo

PENGUINS (37-22-4) at RANGERS (29-27-7)

Last 10
-- Pittsburgh 5-2-3; New York 5-5-0.

Season series -- This is the sixth and final meeting between the Atlantic Division foes. The Penguins won the first four matchups, but the Rangers came away with a 3-2 overtime win Feb. 12 in Pittsburgh.

Big story -- The Rangers went to the Olympic break playing well and returned from the layoff in the same fashion. They won two in a row before the two-week break, then scored four unanswered goals to beat the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Penguins have loaded up for another Stanley Cup push, acquiring forward Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Jordan Leopold in separate deals before the trade deadline.

Team Scope :

Penguins -- After going into the break losers of two straight, the Pens started the homestretch with a 3-2 win Tuesday in Buffalo. They did so with Marc Andre-Fleury getting the night off and an admittedly tired Sidney Crosby. Both players won gold medals with Team Canada at the Vancouver Olympics.

"It's not bad, [despite] going on a long flight and getting here and getting right back in the swing of things," Crosby said. "I'll try to manage my rest as we go along here, but I felt all right considering all that."

Rangers -- Down a goal on the road, the Rangers not only didn't crumble -- they stormed back behind U.S. Olympian Ryan Callahan's two goals.

"I think right when I jumped on the ice I was still competing at that speed and that level, and I found it helped me out a lot," said Callahan, who had one assist in six games at the Olympics. "I think that's one of the biggest things I tried to bring back, was not to have that sudden letdown where you don't keep your speed up and your game up, and I think that was one of the reasons I was successful (Tuesday)."

Who's hot -- Callahan started hot with his two-goal game, and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 of 25 shots against the Senators. … Penguins left wing Ruslan Fedotenko had a goal and an assist against the Sabres on Tuesday, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar also scored his 200th career goal in that win.

Injury report -- Penguins tough guy Eric Godard is still out with a groin injury. .. Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto (abdomen) may return tonight, but winger Marian Gaborik (leg) is questionable.

Stat pack -- The Rangers rank 18th in the NHL on the power play with an 18 percent success rate, but have a 22.7 percent success rate at home, fourth-best in the League.

Puck drop -- "He's a good, hard-working winger who drives to the net hard, he has good size, he's a good player. I feel like he's a good addition for us." -- Fedotenko, on Ponikarovsky.

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