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Rangers aim to gain ground on Penguins

by Tal Pinchevsky

PENGUINS (11-4-0) at RANGERS (6-8-0)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 7-3-0; New York 5-5-0

Season series: This is the first of four meetings between these two longtime rivals, who now find themselves in the new Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh went 4-1-0 against the Rangers last season, with Pascal Dupuis and Evgeni Malkin each posting five points in those five games.

Big story: The Rangers are looking to inch their way back to the .500 mark after a difficult season-opening road trip. But they could be in tough against a Penguins team that has won four straight. The pivotal matchup will be between the NHL's leading scorer, Sidney Crosby, and a stingy Rangers defense that has allowed 15 goals in the past nine games.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Pittsburgh hit a rough patch in late October, dropping three straight games. But the Penguins have rebounded with four consecutive wins, including back-to-back victories against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After the Penguins won 4-2 in Pittsburgh on Friday, the two teams met again in Columbus on Saturday night. Pittsburgh controlled the play in the rematch, outshooting the Blue Jackets 22-10 through two periods and opening the scoring on Deryk Engelland's second-period goal that was facilitated by a perfect centering pass from Joe Vitale. Chris Kunitz doubled that lead just 47 seconds into the third and Jeff Zatkoff made 19 saves to shut out Columbus 3-0 and earn his first NHL win.

"The guys played unreal tonight," Zatkoff said. "They didn't give up too much, and they started shooting more in the third but nothing too high-quality."

Rangers: New York appeared rejuvenated coming into its matchup Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Having won three straight and four of their past five, the Rangers were looking to get back to .500 after starting the season 2-6-0.

But New York fell into a hole early after Corey Perry and Kyle Palmieri gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead 9:09 into the game. The Rangers controlled the play in the second, outshooting Anaheim 15-6 in the period. Their best shots were continuously rebuffed by rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen until Michael Del Zotto earned his first goal of the season to halve the Anaheim lead. New York had a chance to tie the game on the power play late in the third, but a high-sticking penalty to Benoit Pouliot followed by a bench minor for too many men with 50 seconds left foiled any chances for a Rangers rally as they lost 2-1.

"It's definitely a lesson for all of us that you have to be so careful with the puck, especially when you play top teams and their top lines," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "They're so fast at turning mistakes into scoring chances. That's why they're a top team."

Who's hot: Crosby has five points (all assists) during a four-game point streak. Kunitz has goals in four straight games. … Carl Hagelin has two goals and four points in four games since returning to the lineup following offseason shoulder surgery. Chris Kreider has two goals and five points in his past four games while Mats Zuccarello has five points (all assists) in that span.

Injury report: Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body), James Neal (upper body), Chuck Kobasew (lower body) and Rob Scuderi (ankle surgery) are all out for the Penguins. … Forwards Dominic Moore (strained oblique) and Rick Nash (head) will not play for the Rangers.

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