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Rangers-Penguins Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: New York Rangers (44-23-12) at Pittsburgh Penguins (20-45-13).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.

The New York Rangers look to avoid a third straight loss and move closer to winning their first division title in 12 years when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York has secured a playoff berth for the first time since 1997 and is looking to win the Atlantic Division for the first time since its Stanley Cup-winning season of 1993-94.

The Rangers lead Philadelphia by three points in the division with three games remaining, including a matchup with the Flyers on Saturday, while Philadelphia has four contests left.

New York fell behind 3-0 and lost its second straight on Tuesday, 3-2 to the New York Islanders.

"This team hasn't been to the playoffs in nine years, and the whole city is waiting for it," Petr Sykora said. "We need to come out with a better effort than we did tonight. We need to be ready to play in the playoffs.

"From my experience, if you're not ready from the first shift and the first face-off it doesn't matter what kind of lineup you have, you're not going to win. We will be ready."

Petr Prucha scored his 30th goal of the season, and with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's 30 wins, the Rangers became the first NHL team to have a rookie goalie with 30 wins and a rookie score 30 goals.

Jaromir Jagr, who was recognized in a pregame ceremony Tuesday for breaking seven single-season Rangers' records this season, has six goals and four assists in seven games against the Penguins this season.

Pittsburgh ended a 1-3 road trip with a 4-3 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday. The Penguins trailed 3-0 in the second period before tying the score behind goals from Michel Ouellet, Ryan Whitney and Sidney Crosby.

"We've been there a lot this year. We've fallen behind and climbed our way back, but it seems like one mistake we make and sometimes it costs us," said Crosby, who has four goals and two assists against the Rangers this season.

Crosby is seven points shy of joining Hall of Fame forward Dale Hawerchuk as the only 18-year-olds with a 100-point season.

"I want to finish strong, that's my mentality," Crosby said. "I don't want to let up. These are my playoffs, basically."

New York has won three straight over Pittsburgh, and hasn't won four consecutive in the series since Oct. 16, 1996-March 24, 1997.

STANDINGS: Rangers - 100 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Penguins - 53 points, 5th place, 47 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 53 goals, 68 assists and 121 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 97 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 37 goals, 56 assists and 93 points; Eric Cairns, 117 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Rangers - Power play: 18.8 percent (81 for 431), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (396 for 470), 6th. Penguins - Power play: 18.5 percent (87 for 471), 10th. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (401 for 510), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Lundqvist (30-11-9, 2 SO, 2.18 GAA); Kevin Weekes (14-12-3, 2.84). Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury (11-27-6, 1, 3.34); Sebastien Caron (8-8-4, 1, 3.84).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 5-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 1; Rangers 3-1. At New York, Michal Rozsival and Sykora scored power-play goals and Lundqvist made 24 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 19-14-6 on the road; Penguins - 10-21-8 at home.

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