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Penguins try to begin new streak vs. Rangers

by Mike Battaglino

PENGUINS (28-9-0) at RANGERS (17-15-3)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 9-1-0; New York 4-5-1

Season series: This is the fourth of five meetings, with the final one Friday. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the first three by a combined score of 12-3, the past two by 3-0 shutout, and seven in a row over two seasons.

Big story: The New York Rangers enter with the longer winning streak (one game) after the Penguins had their 15-game run end in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Each team has made significant additions prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, with the latest Ryane Clowe coming to the Rangers from the San Jose Sharks.

Team Scope:

Penguins: In its first full game since losing NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby to a broken jaw, it was Pittsburgh's defense that fell apart in the loss to the Sabres. The Penguins gave up the four goals on 13 shots in the first 23:28.

Granted, the Penguins scored once, but they had allowed one goal or fewer in nine of the last 11 wins of the streak.

"Fifteen, it's a good number, but there's probably some games in there without the way that our goalies played that we probably didn't even deserve to win," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Hopefully we just learn more from tonight than we did from the 15-game winning streak."

Forward Jarome Iginla scored his first goal for the Penguins in his second game since arriving in a trade.

"The good part of the back-to-backs is not having to dwell on it for too long," Iginla said. "Just get back and work on getting in the win column again. ... We weren't as good as the team's capable of being and we'll get back at [it] tomorrow."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played for the first time since March 26, relieving Tomas Vokoun early in the second period. Fleury will start Wednesday.

Rangers: New York's primary weakness is a lack of consistent goal scoring, but they acquired Clowe in a trade Tuesday even though he does not have a goal in 28 games played this season.

The Rangers are 13-2-1 when scoring at least three goals, including a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

"I think they feel better about themselves after last night's game," coach John Tortorella said Tuesday. "... We're just looking game to game. Skate 'em today to move the blood and we're just ready to play another game."

The Rangers traded Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, possibly creating an opening for forward Jesper Fast, a 2010 sixth-round draft pick who came to New York after finishing his season in Sweden.

"There isn't [a plan for Fast]," Tortorella said Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. "The only thought process today was that we wanted to look at him. I think he's skated since Wednesday out there in Hartford. We don't practice here that much now with all our games. We had a scheduled practice today and it gave us an opportunity to take a look at him also."

Who's hot: Forward Evgeni Malkin has six points in five games since returning from injury March 4. … Rangers forward Ryan Callahan had a shorthanded goal and three assists Monday. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has allowed two goals in each of his past five games.

Injury report: Penguins defensemen Paul Martin (broken hand) and Kris Letang (lower body) are out. … Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (face) is out.

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