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Red-hot Penguins get visit from slumping Rangers

by Dave Lozo

RANGERS (13-11-2) at PENGUINS (20-8-0)


Last 10: New York 5-5-0; Pittsburgh 8-2-0

Season series: This is the third of five meetings and first at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins won 6-3 and 3-0 at Madison Square Garden 11 days apart in January.

Big story: The Penguins have won seven straight, scoring 32 goals in the process, to create some breathing room at the top of the Atlantic Division. The Rangers have lost three of four and have two goals in their past two games. After losing to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Rangers are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Rangers: After a 3-1 loss at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday that prompted Rangers coach John Tortorella to rip his team and offer no credit to the opponent, he was more positive following another 3-1 loss to the Jets on Thursday.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist held the Rangers in the game with 30 saves, but his teammates couldn't break through more than once against Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who made 29 stops.

"We had some chances to score goals, but we didn't," Tortorella said. "[We're] not going to win many games scoring one goal. [Lundqvist] gave us a chance, but we couldn't keep the puck in the third period."

Penguins: Outside of losing Evgeni Malkin to an upper-body injury unrelated to his concussion earlier this season, things could not be going better for the Penguins. Not only have they won seven straight, they've handled the East's top teams along the way.

The Penguins have defeated the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs twice, including a 3-1 road win Thursday, during the streak. It wasn't an aesthetically pleasing win, and the Penguins felt they could be better.

"We didn't make it easy on ourselves," Sidney Crosby said. "We didn't execute, especially in the first two periods. But we kept it simple in the third and just tried to give us a chance to get back into the game. We were fortunate to do that."

Who's hot: Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has two goals and an assist in his past three games. … Crosby has three goals and 13 assists in seven March games.

Injury report: The Rangers will be without defenseman Marc Staal (eye) indefinitely. Forward Arron Asham (back) has been out nearly a month but is traveling and skating with the team. … Malkin (upper body) is out.

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