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Rangers expecting more prepared Penguins team

by Wes Crosby

RANGERS (7-6-3) at PENGUINS (11-3-1)


PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to increase their intensity Saturday after a lopsided Rangers win four days ago.

The Rangers, who held an optional morning skate Saturday, enter their game at Consol Energy Center off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. But New York might have had its best performance of the season in its prior game, a 5-0 win against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden.

Saturday is expected to play out differently according to the Rangers locker room. Forward Mats Zuccarello, who scored one of the Rangers' three first-period goals Tuesday, thinks the Penguins will be better prepared and New York will have to fight to earn two points in Pittsburgh.

"It's their home rink here and they want to redeem themselves a little bit from the last game," Zuccarello said. "So, we have to be ready from the get go."

Zuccarello was primarily matched against Penguins forward Sidney Crosby on Tuesday, and held him to one shot and a minus-2 rating. Zuccarello said he enjoys playing against Crosby.

"It's just fun," Zuccarello said. "Obviously, you want to go to their best players and try to be in their head and he's going to reply, so it's just fun. But we want to win, you want to do whatever you can for your team to win, so we just have to get to their best players."

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will most likely oppose Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the second time in three games. Lundqvist shut out the Penguins by stopping all 33 of the shots he faced while Fleury struggled at the other end.

Fleury, whose last start came against New York, surrendered a season-high five goals on 30 shots after allowing seven goals over his previous six games, a span that included three shutouts in four games.

The Penguins rebounded behind goalie Thomas Greiss on Friday, riding two goals from forward Pascal Dupuis to a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. It was Dupuis' 14th multi-point game of his career, and his first of the season.

Pittsburgh did not hold a morning skate Saturday, but the adjustments coach Mike Johnston made to the lineup Friday are expected to remain in effect. Dupuis joined center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz to reform a line the Penguins utilized early last season before Dupuis tore his ACL on Dec. 23.

Forward Patric Hornqvist played alongside center Evgeni Malkin, and left wing Nick Spaling and forward Zach Sill entered the lineup as the fourth-line left wing in place of forward Blake Comeau, who did not play with an illness.

Rangers forward Tanner Glass will return to Pittsburgh for the first time this season. Glass played his past two seasons with the Penguins, scoring 15 points and five goals in 115 games.

Glass, who is known to be a physical player, said he thinks there are ways to affect the play of players like Crosby and Malkin.

"I think everyone's different, but everyone's got their buttons," Glass said. "They're only human."

Here are the projected lineups:


Rick NashDerick BrassardMartin St. Louis

Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello

Carl HagelinKevin HayesLee Stempniak

Tanner GlassDominic MooreJesper Fast

Marc StaalDan Boyle

John MooreDan Girardi

Matt HunwickKevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Anthony Duclair

Injured: Ryan McDonagh (shoulder)


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyPascal Dupuis

Nick SpalingEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Beau BennettBrandon SutterSteve Downie

Zach SillMarcel GocCraig Adams

Paul MartinKris Letang

Christian EhrhoffRobert Bortuzzo

Rob ScuderiSimon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: None

Injured: Olli Maatta (thyroid), Blake Comeau (illness)

Status report: Maatta, who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from the back of his neck last week, could return to the lineup sometime next week. He returned to practice Thursday, 10 days after his surgery … Duclair will be a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game. He has one goal in 12 games.

Who's hot: Dupuis is tied for fourth on the Penguins with six goals … Nash leads the Rangers with 18 points and 12 goals. He scored three points and one goal against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

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