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Penguins' Ehrhoff, Pouliot out vs. Rangers in Game 2

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot are out because of injuries will not play against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.

"Neither will play and they are still day-to-day," Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. "We will have the same lineup as Thursday [in Game 1]."

Ehrhoff has missed the past 10 games because of an upper-body injury and Pouliot has missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury. The injury-depleted defense also is without Kris Letang, who has missed the past eight games after being diagnosed with a concussion March 28. Second-year defenseman Olli Maatta has not played since Dec. 6 because of surgery to repair a shoulder injury.

In their absences Taylor Chorney and Brian Dumoulin will remain in the lineup; both players made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts in Game 1.

Penguins defenseman Ian Cole knows that while limiting the New York Rangers in their own zone is critical, it also would be beneficial if the team can provide a little more of an offensive push.

"That's a little bit easier when you're not killing penalties the whole first period, but I think that's definitely our mindset," Cole said. "We want to be as aggressive and as hard as we can without taking penalties and as a defense we need to jump in and create offensively.

"We need to try and be that third or fourth man up on the rush. Not necessarily leading the rush with the puck, but certainly trying to jump in and help out."

Pittsburgh defensemen accounted for 10 of the 25 shots on goal in a 2-1 Game 1 loss, including three by Ben Lovejoy. The unit also needed to step up and spend a lot more time on the penalty kill as the Rangers had five power plays and scored once.

It also might help if a few key forwards broke out of scoring slumps, including Chris Kunitz and David Perron. Kunitz had 17 goals in the regular season but two in the past 34 games, including the playoffs; Perron had 12 goals in 43 games with the Penguins but one in the past 15 games.

"When you don't have the confidence [on offense] you look for the pass or you don't shoot it right away or maybe shoot it too quick," forward Patric Hornqvist said. "You have to go back to basics and get the puck to the net and start from there. When you get the puck there you know we'll have bodies there to get those second and third chances. When you do, you must make sure you get [the puck] under the bar too, and don't shoot it wide."

After the morning skate on Saturday, Johnston responded to allegations made by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault that the Penguins were crashing the goal crease and disturbing goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

"I think the referees have taken a stance on the playoffs on everyone, [Kunitz] was whistled for goalie interference [in Game 1]," Johnston said. "When a lot of that stuff happened on Thursday there was a loose puck in the crease. When the puck is sitting there players have free reign to play that puck. I didn't see, other than [Kunitz's] penalty, where we hindered Lundqvist in net."

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be back in goal for Game 2. He is 7-6 with a 2.05 goals-against average, three shutouts and a .935 save percentage in 13 career playoff games against the Rangers. He made 36 saves in Game 1.

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Daniel Winnik - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - David Perron

Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie

Nick Spaling - Maxim Lapierre - Blake Comeau

Paul Martin - Ben Lovejoy

Rob Scuderi - Ian Cole

Taylor Chorney - Brian Dumoulin

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Craig Adams, Scott Wilson

Injured: Christian Ehrhoff (upper body), Kris Letang (concussion), Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Olli Maatta (upper body), Derrick Pouliot (upper body)

RANGERS

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - J.T. Miller

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Chris Summers, James Sheppard

Injured: Kevin Klein (left arm)

Status report: Ehrhoff and Pouliot took part in the morning skate Saturday. … Johnston had the Penguins work on the power play for much of the practice, with Crosby, Malkin, Perron, Hornqvist and Martin on the top unit.

Who's hot: Cole led the Penguins with 26:06 of ice time and six shot attempts in Game 1. … Crosby won 15 of 20 faceoffs (75 percent) and Lapierre won nine of 15 faceoffs (60 percent) to lead the Penguins in Game 1.

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