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New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Rangers (25-36-7-7) at Pittsburgh Penguins (19-45-7-4).

TIME: Sunday, 3 p.m. EST.

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins have both been reduced to playing for pride for some time now.

The Penguins have responded well to that challenge. The Rangers have not.

Playing its best hockey of the season, league-worst Pittsburgh will try to continue its recent run of success when it hosts New York in the opener of a home-and-home series at Mellon Arena.

Though the Penguins have been the NHL's laughingstock for most of the season, they have come on of late, going 8-3-2 in their last 13 games.

Pittsburgh bounced back from a 6-1 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday to beat Carolina 4-3 in overtime Friday and extend its home unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).

"To me, it's about respect and not only representing our city, but Mario (Lemieux) and the Penguins," said Pittsburgh coach Ed Olczyk.

After scoring the game-winner on the power play, Aleksey Morozov grabbed the front of his jersey and displayed the Penguins logo to the fans at Mellon Arena.

"I was just trying to show the fans that we're hot," said Morozov, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore back. "We're good and they should come to the games. It's really fun to be here right now. There are a lot of good guys in the dressing room. Everybody is happy, everybody's smiling."

Morozov has scored in four straight games, piling up 10 points in his last seven contests.

The Penguins went 2-for-5 with the man advantage Friday, and have scored at least one power-play goal in a season-high nine straight games.

New York was officially eliminated from the playoff race for the seventh straight season with Saturday's 3-0 shutout loss to Philadelphia. The Rangers are winless in their last five games (0-3-0-2).

"When you play 82 games to get to the playoffs, it's disappointing for the guys who have been around for a while," said captain Mark Messier said. "But you still have a responsibility every time you go out on the ice to play hard and the best you can."

New York went 0-for-5 on the power play and has not scored in 14 straight opportunities.

STANDINGS: Rangers - 64 points, 4th place, 32 PB, Atlantic Division. Penguins - 49 points, 5th place, 47 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jaromir Jagr, 28 goals, 42 assists and 70 points; Dale Purinton, 113 PIM. Penguins - Ryan Malone, 22 goals; Dick Tarnstrom, 34 assists and 48 points; Brooks Orpik, 119 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 18): Rangers - Power play: 14.1 percent (42 for 297), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.6 percent (284 for 357), 29th. Penguins - Power play: 17.2 percent (57 for 332), 10th. Penalty killing: 76.0 percent (259 for 341), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Mike Dunham (16-27-6, 2 SO, 2.97 GAA); Jamie McLennan (12-11-3, 4, 2.21). Penguins - Sebastien Caron (8-23-4, 1, 3.81); Martin Brochu (0-0-0, 1.82).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: March 7; Penguins, 7-4. At New York, Pittsburgh had its highest scoring game of the season en route to posting consecutive wins for the first time since December.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 12-18-4-3 on the road; Penguins - 11-22-5-0 at home.

Associated Press
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