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Rangers-Penguins Preview @NHLdotcom
Rangers-Penguins Preview

GAME: New York Rangers (22-12-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (9-19-8).

TIME: Saturday, 1 p.m. EST.

Coming off one of their most impressive performances of the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins hope to win two straight for the first time in nearly two months when they face the New York Rangers.

Sidney Crosby scored twice for the second time in three games and fellow No. 1 draft pick Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 44 shots in Pittsburgh's 6-2 win over New Jersey on Thursday.

That ended a six-game losing streak for the Penguins, who had lost their first four games - all by one goal - under new coach Michel Therrien.

"Marc-Andre was phenomenal and we capitalized on our chances and did a lot of good things," Therrien said.

Althought it hasn't been reflected with many wins, Fleury has played very well since he was recalled from the minors in late November. Playing behind one the league's worst defenses, he has surrendered three goals or fewer in 10 of his last 12 games.

Fleury has faced 32 or more shots all but once in his last six starts.

"You don't want to make his job more difficult, make him have to face 45-46 shots every night," said Crosby, who has five goals in his past four games. "But there's a confidence level with him right now, and that's the most important thing. I think things are starting to get better with us. We have to keep going and keep improving."

The Rangers rebounded from a poor game against league-leading Ottawa by scoring six unanswered goals Wednesday in a 6-2 victory over the rival New York Islanders.

Jaromir Jagr had one goal and three assists for the Rangers, who have won two of three after losing a season-high three in a row.

The line of Jagr, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander combined for 12 points against the Islanders with each player netting four.

"In order to win games, your top line has to score," said Jagr, the league's leading scorer with 59 points. "Some nights, it works for us."

Rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist figures to start Saturday after making 23 saves Wednesday to improve to 14-5-3 this season.

STANDINGS: Rangers - 48 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division. Penguins - 26 points, 5th place, 27 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 24 goals, 35 assists and 59 points; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 46 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 18 goals and 40 points; Zigmund Palffy, 23 assists; Brooks Orpik, 61 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Rangers - Power play: 16.4 percent (36 for 220), 17th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.9 percent (213 for 245), 2nd. Penguins - Power play: 15.7 percent (36 for 229), 21st. Penalty killing: 79.3 percent (195 for 246), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Lundqvist (14-5-3, 1 SO, 2.12 GAA); Kevin Weekes (8-7-1, 2.98). Penguins - Fleury (3-7-3, 3.11); Jocelyn Thibault (1-9-2, 4.41).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 1, 2005; Rangers, 2-1. At New York, Defenseman Marek Malik broke a 1-1 tie 6:31 into the second period and Lundqvist finished with 32 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 11-7-2 on the road; Penguins - 5-9-5 at home.

Associated Press

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