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Preview: Rangers at Penguins

New York plays first game without Mika Zibanejad; Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz week to week with lower-body injury

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

RANGERS (13-5-1) at PENGUINS (11-4-3)

7 p.m. ET; ROOT, MSG, NHL.TV

 

Rangers team scope

New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad will miss 6-8 weeks after breaking his fibula during overtime of a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Zibanejad, who centered New York's second line between forwards Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello, has five goals and 15 points in 19 games. "Every team has injuries," coach Alain Vigneault said following the game Sunday. "We don't expect to be any different than anybody else. So, like every coach says in these moments, it's an opportunity for somebody else to get more ice time and I'm confident that whoever we decide to put in that spot will be able to do the job for us." New York did not hold a morning skate, so its plan to replace Zibanejad is unknown. Goalie Antti Raanta could start after Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves Sunday. The Rangers, 0-1-1 in their past two games after winning eight of their previous nine, face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since losing the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in five games.

 

Penguins team scope

Forward Chris Kunitz (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Monday and is week to week, coach Mike Sullivan said. Kunitz has 11 points in 18 games, including three assists in his past two games. Without Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist (concussion), the Penguins moved forward Conor Sheary to their top power-play unit with Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel during their morning skate. Forward Jake Guentzel was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Guentzel, 22, should make his NHL debut after skating to the left of Malkin and Kessel. "We try to put players in a position where they can play to their strengths," Sullivan said. "Jake has very good offensive instincts. He's a point-a-game guy at the American League level. He played with some of those guys in the [preseason] games and we thought he handled it extremely well. He's a mature kid." Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was first off the ice and will likely make a second consecutive start. He made 32 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. 

 

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Rick Nash

Jimmy Vesey -- J.T. Miller -- Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- Jesper Fast

Brandon Pirri -- Oscar Lindberg -- Josh Jooris

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Kevin Klein

Antti Raanta

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Adam Clendening

Injured: Pavel Buchnevich (back), Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Carl Hagelin -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Bryan Rust

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Steve Oleksy, Tom Sestito

Injured: Patric Hornqvist (concussion), Derrick Pouliot (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body)

 

Status report

Hornqvist skated on his own before the Penguins morning skate. … The Rangers claimed forward Matt Puempel off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.

 

Who's hot

Crosby scored Pittsburgh's lone goal against Buffalo on Saturday. He is tied for the NHL lead with 12 goals in 12 games. …. Before being held without a point against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, Grabner had scored at least one goal in three of his previous four games. He leads the Rangers with 11 goals.

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