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Penguins try to bounce back vs. Rangers

by Sergei J. Feldman /

NY RANGERS (18-13-1) at PENGUINS (21-9-2)


Last 10 -- New York 6-4-0; Pittsburgh 9-1-0

Season series -- It's the third of six meetings between the two Atlantic Division rivals. The Rangers bested Pittsburgh, 3-2 in overtime at Consol Energy Center in on Nov. 15. The Penguins returned the favor at The Garden two weeks later with a 3-1 victory.

Big story -- The two teams have had two spirited battles this season and this game figures to feature much of the same. While the Rangers will look to ride the momentum from their 7-0 thrashing of the Washington Capitals, the Penguins will look to put Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Philadelphia in the rear-view mirror and get back on the winning track.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- The Rangers have won four of six since their loss to the Penguins, helping them stay afloat in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers enter the game in sixth place in the East and can move into the fifth position with a win over the Penguins. Also, the game will mark the return of captain Chris Drury, who hasn't played since Oct. 15 because of a broken finger.

"We won't upset the apple cart (by juggling lines), but we will find ways to play Chris in different situations," said coach John Tortorella. "This isn't a bad thing, and it won't hamper us. It's a good thing getting Dru back, and (the lines) will work itself out."

Penguins -- The streak is over. After 12 wins in a row since the OT loss to the Rangers a month ago, the Penguins came up short at Philadelphia. Still, Sidney Crosby continued his strong play with a two-point effort against the Flyers. He extended his point streak to 19 games.

"You never like losing and just because we won however many we won doesn't change that feeling, and I don't think it ever will," said Crosby, who has 20 goals and 18 assists during his streak. "You go out there and you work hard and you have an objective in mind to win a game and you don't -- so no, it's not a good feeling. Luckily for us we have a game (Wednesday) night so we can look to respond."

Who's hot -- For the Penguins, Evgeni Malkin returned after missing four games with a knee injury and had both goals against the Flyers. The Rangers, meanwhile, have been led by Brandon Dubinsky, who has 6 points in his past five games.

Injury report -- Chris Kunitz, who has been playing some of his best hockey as a Penguin, is a question mark entering the game against the Rangers with an undisclosed injury. … Rangers forward Derek Boogaard is still out with a shoulder injury and Vaclav Prospal hasn't played at all this season due to knee surgery.

Stat pack -- Crosby enters the game leading the NHL in goals (26) and points (53). With 27 assists, he is four away from leading the League in all three categories. … The Penguins have outscored the Rangers 45-25 in going 9-0-2 against New York since Jan. 18, 2009. Crosby has up 10 goals and 11 assists in those 11 games, including a 10-game point streak.

Puck drop -- Getting their captain back should be a boost for the Rangers. Drury has missed all but one period this season with a left index finger he's broken twice -- the second time in his return on Oct. 15.

"Getting Dru back on the ice and back for the games is huge for us," defenseman Marc Staal said. "He will help us in so many ways. We're all very excited to have him back in the lineup."

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