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Penguins-Rangers Preview @NHLdotcom

The New York Rangers are slumping, having dropped four of their past five games as their franchise goaltender has struggled.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, though, look like they're in the midst of a free fall.

The Rangers will hope to have an under-the-weather Henrik Lundqvist in the lineup - and back in form - on Monday when they host the reeling Penguins, who are looking to avoid a fifth straight loss.

New York (23-14-3) has hit a lull in its schedule, playing an NHL-low five games since Dec. 20. When they've been on the ice in that stretch, the Rangers have lacked any consistency.

They've gone 1-3-1, and the typically outstanding Lundqvist has been anything but solid recently. Lundqvist went 1-2-1 with a 4.01 goals-against average in his last four December starts before sitting out Saturday's game at Washington with flu-like symptoms.

Stephen Valiquette got the start and played well, stopping 29 of 31 shots. But with the score tied 1-1 late in the second period, the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin registered a shorthanded goal, the difference in Washington's 2-1 win.

That was the league-worst 12th shorthanded tally the Rangers have given up.

"Teams recognize we have trouble with that," coach Tom Renney said, "and they attack."

It's unclear if Lundqvist will be healthy enough to start Monday, but the Penguins (19-16-4) would certainly prefer not to find him between the pipes. Lundqvist is 8-4-0 with a 1.81 GAA in his last 12 regular-season starts against Pittsburgh.

Two of those came this year at Madison Square Garden in strikingly similar games. Down 2-1 in each contest, New York tied the score late in regulation - courtesy of Nikolai Zherdev on Oct. 25 and Petr Prucha on Dec. 3 - and went on to win each time, 3-2, in a shootout.

This time, the Penguins would probably be happy just to get to a shootout. They've failed to earn a point in four straight games, putting them in danger of dropping five consecutive games in regulation for the first time since losing 10 in a row in January 2006 - captain Sidney Crosby's rookie season.

"We've got to help each other, that's the bottom line," said Crosby, who has two goals in his last 16 games. "When things are tough no one's going to get you out of it but the guys in this room, so that's the way things work. You have to dig yourselves out of it."

Crosby and his teammates let their frustration boil over in their latest loss, 6-1 at home to Florida on Saturday afternoon. Down three goals late in the second period, Crosby fought the Panthers' Brett McLean - the second fight of the former Hart Trophy winner's career - earning 19 minutes in penalties for fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct and an instigator.

Pittsburgh has scored eight goals in its last six games - one from Crosby and none from NHL points leader Evgeni Malkin, who has just two assists in his last six contests.

"We've kind of been dragging on the bottom there," said defenseman Brooks Orpik. "Time is a little precious here. You look at the standings and every game we lose we're falling down."

This will be the fourth consecutive regular-season meeting between the teams that's taken place at MSG - all post-regulation Ranger wins. Crosby has a goal and an assist in those games, while Malkin's been held to one assist.

Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was pulled Saturday after allowing three goals on 12 shots, is 2-5-3 with a 3.52 GAA in 10 career road starts against the Rangers.

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