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Penguins-Rangers Preview @NHL

The New York Rangers are in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season. The Pittsburgh Penguins are two defeats away from matching theirs.

One losing streak will end and another will continue when the Rangers (13-10-4) host the Penguins (11-11-4) on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers' four-game skid exceeds the Penguins' slide by one game, but New York has recorded three points during the stretch. Pittsburgh has suffered three straight regulation defeats.

New York has not won since beating the Penguins 2-1 on Nov. 25 at Mellon Arena, when Martin Straka scored with three seconds left in overtime. After that, the Rangers suffered two overtime defeats and a shootout loss before falling 7-4 at home to the New York Islanders on Sunday. The seven goals allowed tied a season high.

"We came out with some good energy, had some good shots, and before you know it, it was 4-0," Rangers left wing Brendan Shanahan said of his team's first-period deficit. "We could have packed it in, but we didn't. We battled back."

Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for the first time in his 21 starts this season after giving up four goals on just eight first-period shots. Backup Kevin Weekes allowed three goals on 13 shots in relief.

Lundqvist has allowed nine goals in his last two starts.

"I don't think there were any soft goals," said Lundqvist, 5-2-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average in eight starts against Pittsburgh. "At the same time, I am not satisfied with letting four goals in during the first period."

New York, which has given up 19 goals during the four-game skid, hasn't dropped five straight since losing their final five contests of the 2005-06 season.

On Sunday, Shanahan ended a season-high four-game goal drought with his 18th career hat trick. Martin Straka recorded an assist and has six goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak.

Straka's goal in the last meeting with the Penguins ended Marc-Andre Fleury's three-game win streak over the Rangers. Fleury fell to 4-6-1 with a 3.61 GAA in 11 starts against New York.

Fleury did not play in favor of Jocelyn Thibault (27 saves) on Tuesday night as the Penguins lost 3-2 at home to Florida.

"We kept pressing," said Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who has seven multipoint efforts in his last eight games. "But we couldn't find a way to get it done and we've got to do that."

The Penguins lost for the sixth time in seven games. Pittsburgh's longest losing streak of the season was a five-game slide from Nov. 4-11.

Crosby looks to help his team end its struggles by continuing his outstanding production against the Rangers. The second-year star has two goals and eight assists in his last three meetings against New York, and six goals and 10 assists in 10 career matchups.

Rookie Evgeni Malkin did not have a point for the sixth time in his 22-game career Tuesday. The Penguins are 1-4-1 when he goes pointless.

Fellow rookie Jordan Staal, who missed an overtime penalty shot, was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. He has one assist in his last seven games.

"Some of the guys who think the effort is there," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said, "it's not."

Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr has 13 goals and 13 assists in 23 games against Pittsburgh since the Penguins traded him to Washington on July 11, 2001.

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