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GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (20-45-7-4) at New York Rangers (25-36-7-8).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

Aleksey Morozov and the Pittsburgh Penguins won't be in the playoffs in April.

They are, however, already looking forward to next season.

Morozov and the Penguins look to continue their recent strong play when they conclude a home-and-home series with the New York Rangers.

Morozov scored twice, including a power-play goal with 7.9 seconds left in overtime, to lead the Penguins to a 4-3 win over the Rangers in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

After enduring an 18-game winless skid and an NHL-record 14-game home losing streak earlier this season, the Penguins are playing well down the stretch.

Pittsburgh is 9-3-2 since going 18 straight without a win.

"It's going to help a lot," Morozov said of heading into the offseason on a high note. "We have a lot of young guys, and they need to know what they're supposed to do to win games. It's hard work to win games."

Morozov, who also scored an overtime power-play goal to beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, set up two goals Sunday and has scored in each of his last five games. He has 26 points in his last 26 games.

"It's good still if it comes late," Morozov said. "I know it's too late to make a difference for the playoffs, but we want to keep going to the end and we're looking forward to next season."

The Rangers will be without captain Mark Messier as they try to halt a six-game winless streak (0-3-0-3).

Messier, the second-leading scorer in NHL history, was suspended for two games for spearing the Penguins' Martin Strbak in the second period Sunday. Messier, who was ejected for the play, had been cross-checked by Strbak moments earlier.

"I respect Mark Messier. He's a great hockey player, a legend," said Strbak, who was down on the ice for a while after the spearing but did not leave the game. "I don't know what happened. I just gave him a little push from behind. I can't understand why he reacted like he did."

Messier's infraction, which came during a New York power play, was one of many bad penalties taken by the Rangers.

Jaromir Jagr was in the penalty box for roughing Dan Focht when Dick Tarnstrom scored the game-tying power-play goal with 1:15 left in regulation.

Boris Mironov's hooking penalty away from the play with 30 seconds left in overtime led to Morozov's winner.

"We made some careless mistakes and took some selfish penalties, and that can't happen," New York forward Dan LaCouture said. "We took penalties at the end that obviously cost us the game."

Pittsburgh has won two straight over New York after the Rangers won the first three meetings between the teams this season. The Penguins haven't lost a season series to the Rangers since going 0-4 in 1996-97.

STANDINGS: Penguins - 51 points, 5th place, 45 PB, Atlantic Division. Rangers - 65 points, 4th place, 31 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Ryan Malone, 22 goals; Tarnstrom, 35 assists and 50 points; Brooks Orpik, 119 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 28 goals, 42 assists and 70 points; Dale Purinton, 113 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 21): Penguins - Power play: 17.9 percent (60 for 336), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.3 percent (264 for 346), 30th. Rangers - Power play: 13.7 percent (42 for 307), 27th. Penalty killing: 79.2 percent (290 for 366), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Sebastien Caron (8-23-4, 1 SO, 3.81 GAA); Jean-Sebastien Aubin (5-8-0, 1, 3.04). Rangers - Mike Dunham (16-28-6, 2, 2.99); Jamie McLennan (12-11-3, 4, 2.22).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Sunday; Penguins, 4-3, OT. At Pittsburgh, Aubin made 31 saves, and Lasse Pirjeta and Strbak also scored for the Penguins.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 8-23-2-4 on the road; Rangers - 13-18-3-4 at home.

Associated Press
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