PENGUINS (43-27-12) at RANGERS (53-22-7)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVA, ROOT, MSG
Season series: The New York Rangers went 3-0-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the teams haven't played since Jan. 18, when the Rangers won 5-2 at Consol Energy Center. They haven't played at Madison Square Garden since Dec. 8, when the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime. New York forward Rick Nash had seven points (four goals, three assists) in four games against the Penguins this season. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby had two points (one goal, one assist) against the Rangers. Evgeni Malkin had three points (two goals, one assist).
Penguins team scope: Pittsburgh hasn't started the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road since 2007, when Crosby and Malkin made their playoff debuts. They finished with 98 points this season, their lowest point total in an 82-game season since Crosby's rookie season, 2005-06, when they had 58 points. The last time the Penguins didn't reach the 100-point plateau in an 82-game regular season was in 2008-09. They finished with 99 points then and won the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh hasn't won a game beyond the second round of the playoffs since 2009.
The Penguins didn't clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the regular season. They were 4-9-2 in their final 15 games, including 2-4-1 in their final seven games, all without defenseman Kris Letang (concussion), who is not expected to be available in the playoffs. Defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and Derrick Pouliot (upper body) are unlikely to play in Game 1; both are considered day-to-day.
Rangers team scope: The New York Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1993-94, which was the last time they won the Stanley Cup. They set a franchise record with 53 wins and 113 points. New York was 29-9-3 in the second half of the season, including 6-1-0 in its final seven games.
Nash missed practice Wednesday because of the flu, but will play in Game 1. Nash missed the last two games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Kevin Klein, who missed the final 16 games of the season, will not be in the lineup because his broken left arm still is not healed enough to allow him to re-join the team in practice.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist returned from his vascular injury to start seven of the final eight games of the regular season. He was 5-2 with a .924 save percentage and allowed only 12 goals in his past six starts. Defenseman Marc Staal missed the past two games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury, but will play Game 1.