Two days after a vicious hit helped to extend their winning streak, the New York Rangers now face one of the most penalized teams in the NHL.
The Rangers go for their fourth straight victory when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in a matchup of Atlantic Division rivals.
With the Rangers (33-27-7) locked in a tie game with the New York Islanders late in the third period Thursday, center Ryan Hollweg was clotheslined by a stick swing from the Islanders' Chris Simon. Petr Prucha scored on the resulting power play to give the Rangers a 2-1 win as the team recorded at least a point for the fifth straight game - one shy of their season high.
"The best retaliation is to score on that power play," Hollweg said. "I couldn't feel any better than when that puck went in."
Hollweg laid on the ice for several minutes after the hit, and a cut on his chin required stitches, but he expects to play Saturday as the Rangers continue their playoff push in Pittsburgh. Simon was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday.
The Penguins (36-21-10) are fourth in the league with 450 penalties and sixth with 1,059 penalty minutes. None of those penalties, however, compare to Simon's ugly hit on Hollweg.
"I feel good," Hollweg said. "We got the win. I kind of lost my hearing for a bit after it happened. I might've been out for a second or two. The pain goes away when you get those two points."
Those two points further helped the Rangers climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Rangers are one of five teams within four points of each other for the East's final two playoff spots.
The Penguins, meanwhile, are ahead of that pack with 82 points, good for fifth place in the East.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to New Jersey on Thursday, its first defeat in its last eight games decided in shootouts.
The Penguins tied the game twice in the third period, first on Sergei Gonchar's shorthanded goal at the 7:32 mark, then on Michel Ouellet's goal with less than three minutes left. Pittsburgh, though, failed to score in the shootout.
"It's always better to get two points with the win, but New Jersey has a good team," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "And the guys didn't quit, they kept playing until the end and we were able to get a good point."
The Penguins have earned points in each of their games against the Rangers this season, going 3-0-2. Three of those games were decided after regulation, and another one was decided on Sidney Crosby's game-winning goal with 3.3 seconds left.
Crosby also scored the only goal of the shootout in a 4-3 win at New York on March 1 in the last meeting. Crosby, the league's leading scorer, has two goals and five assists in four games against the Rangers this season.
The Penguins and Rangers meet again in New York on March 19 and at Pittsburgh on April 7 in each team's regular-season finale.