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Rangers at Penguins preview

Pittsburgh can clinch second in Metropolitan with win, regulation loss by Islanders

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

RANGERS (31-36-14) at PENGUINS (44-26-11)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins could clinch second place in the Metropolitan Division when they play the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

The Penguins, who clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday, would move into second in the division if they defeat the Rangers in any fashion and the New York Islanders lose to the Washington Capitals in regulation. If that occurs, the Penguins would have home-ice advantage against the Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of its past 17 games (11-4-2), would finish as the first wild card into the playoffs from the East if it loses in regulation and the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in any fashion. If neither scenario occurs, it would remain third in the division.

The Rangers, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, have lost three straight (0-2-1), and are 3-8-2 in their past 13. They have been outscored 18-9 in three loses to the Penguins this season.


Players to watch

Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past nine games.

Penguins forward Phil Kessel has three goals in his past two games after scoring three in his previous 29. 


They said it

"We have one more game left to end on a good note and show the coaches and management that we're still here and working hard." -- Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei

"We can finish in a wide variety of spots, so this is an important one." -- Penguins forward Bryan Rust


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Brendan Lemieux -- Brett Howden -- Ryan Strome

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Lias Andersson -- Jimmy Vesey

Brendan Smith -- Boo Nieves -- Vinni Lettieri

Brady Skjei -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo

Ryan Lindgren -- Neal Pionk

Henrik Lundqvist

Alexandar Georgiev

Scratched: Connor Brickley, John Gilmour, Fredrik Claesson

Injured: Libor Hajek (separated shoulder), Jesper Fast (upper body), Filip Chytil (upper body)


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon -- Nick Bjugstad -- Patric Hornqvist

Teddy Blueger -- Matt Cullen -- Garrett Wilson

Olli Maatta -- Kris Letang

Jack Johnson -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Erik Gudbranson

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Zach Trotman 

Injured: Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), Zach Aston-Reese (lower body), Brian Dumoulin (lower body)


Status report

The Rangers did not hold a morning skate after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. ... Dumoulin is expected to miss his third straight game. 


Stat pack

Lundqvist, who could start after Georgiev made 39 saves Friday, needs one win for 450 in the NHL. ... Crosby needs two points to reach 100 in a season for the first time since 2013-14, and the sixth time in the NHL.

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