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Struggling Penguins visit improved Rangers

by Dave Lozo

PENGUINS (3-3-0) at RANGERS (3-3-0)


Season series: This is the second of five meetings. The Penguins rolled to a 6-3 victory in their first meeting on Jan. 20 at Madison Square Garden and have won the last five games between the teams, including three in a row at MSG.

Big story: The Rangers will take the ice without their captain, Ryan Callahan, who is out for 10 to 14 days with a sublaxation of his left shoulder. Callahan averages 20 minutes of ice time per night and sees plenty of action on the power play and penalty-kill situations. It will be a stern test for a team that was already thin up front before the injury.

Team Scope:

Penguins: It's been a train wreck for the Penguins since they won their first two games of the seasons. They've lost three of their last four, have been outscored 13-6 during that stretch and are coming off a 4-1 home loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

"We get a couple bad bounces, ended up down early and seems like we let that frustration kind of get to us," captain Sidney Crosby said.

"When things aren't going our way, we can't hang our heads," forward James Neal said. "We've got to stay upbeat and keep pushing. But tonight was obviously a tough one. When bounces aren't going our way, we kind of go the other way."

Rangers: The Rangers have gone the other way since falling to 0-2-0 with a loss to the Penguins 10 days ago. They have won three of four and held their last three opponents to a total of five goals.

They have put forth two straight solid performances, and will try to do it for a third game in a row against the Pens.

"We're trying to keep our game consistent," defenseman Michael Del Zotto said. "I thought last game we did a great job trying to gain our identity back. We followed up with, maybe it wasn't the prettiest at times, but we found a way to win."

Who's hot: Crosby has three goals and three assists in his last five games. … Del Zotto has scored in two straight games. His goal against Toronto on Saturday was originally credited to Brian Boyle, but the League reviewed it and determined his shot did not deflect off Boyle.

Injury report: The Penguins will miss defenseman Matt Niskanen (lower body) for 2-4 weeks. … In addition to Callahan, the Rangers are without rookie Chris Kreider (ankle).

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