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Penguins vs. Rangers Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 7-5-1-15
Road: 8-3-1-17

WHEN: Nov. 29, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: Madison Square Garden
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
New York Rangers
Home: 5-6-1-11

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers 
Ryan Callahan
F  -  #24
  9 Goals
  12 Assists
  19 Points
• Not only does Callahan rank second in team scoring with 19 points (7G-12A), the aggressive forward has 97 hits, good for second in the league.
• The 25-year-old, who was named an alternate captain at age 24 and is tied for first on the team with two game-winning goals, got the game-tying tally in Saturday’s shootout win at Nashville.
• The Rochester, N.Y. native won a silver medal with the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in February.
Derek Stepan
F  -  #21
  6 Goals
  8 Assists
  14 Points
• Became just the fourth player in NHL history and the first-ever Ranger to score a hat trick in his NHL debut on Oct. 9.
• Despite having his career-high six-game scoring streak snapped on Saturday, the first-year forward had seven points (3G-4A) during that stretch and has nine points (3G-6A) in his last nine games.
• The 20-year-old ranks second in the league in rookie scoring and fourth on the team with 14 points (6G-8A).
Dan Girardi
D  -  #5
  2 goals
  13 points
• Has not missed a game in his last three NHL seasons, posting 20-plus points during each campaign.
• The durable blueliner, 26, leads the team in minutes-played, averaging 24:33 of ice time.
• He isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body, leading the league in blocked shots with 74.
Monday marks the second time in two weeks that Atlantic Division rivals Pittsburgh and New York will face off.

The rolling Rangers are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and have won four of their last five despite amassing 73 man-games lost already this season due to injuries. They topped the Penguins 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 15 and trail Pittsburgh by just three points in the Atlantic Division standings. As of Sunday, New York was tied with Tampa Bay for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

The line of Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan has been continuing to produce for the Rangers in the absence of captain Chris Drury and forward Vinny Prospal.

Dubinsky has carried the offense with 12 goals (tied for seventh in the league) and a team-leading 20 points. Callahan is second in team scoring with 19 points and a team-best 12 assists, while Anisimov ranks third with 15 points (7G-8A).

The team hopes to have star Marian Gaborik back on Monday after he missed Saturday’s game due to illness. The speedy right winger, already plagued by injuries so far this season, has 10 points (4G-6A) in just 12 games. He notched 43 goals for the Rangers in 2009-’10.

The Rangers’ already deep blue line has been bolstered with the return of defenseman Michal Rozsival, who played in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win in Nashville after missing nine games with a shoulder injury. Rozsival joins Jordan Staal’s older brother, Marc, on the top pairing, while sophomore NHLer Michael Del Zotto and Dan Giradi (who leads the team’s blueliners with 13 points), round out the top four.
The Rangers have a one-two punch in goal with Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron between the pipes. Lundqvist, who made 37 stops on Nov. 15 against the Penguins, made 40 saves in a 3-0 whitewashing of Florida on Friday for his third shutout of the season before making 29 stops on Saturday (including robbing all three Nashville shootout attempts). These performances came right after Biron recorded back-to-back wins on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22.
  • The Penguins finished last season with a 5-0-1 record versus the Rangers, including a perfect 3-0 record at Madison Square Garden. They are now 8-0-2 against the Rangers in their past 10 games, earning a 17-5-8 record against New York since the beginning of the 2006-’07 season.
  • Last season, Crosby led the way versus the Rangers with eight goals and 14 points through six games, including a hat trick at Mellon Arena on Nov. 28 and a pair of two-goal efforts. The Penguins captain has 50 points (20G-30A) in 35 games against the Rangers, making them one of three teams (the New York Islanders and Philadelphia being the others) that Crosby has recorded 50 or more career points against. 
  • Crosby extended his season-high 12-game scoring streak with three goals on Saturday, notching 25 points (12G-13A) over the stretch. He nearly became the second player in NHL history (Mario Lemieux, Dec. 31, 1988 versus New Jersey) to score all five ways in the same game, as his three goals were scored at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded and into an empty net. If he had connected on his first-period penalty-shot attempt, he would have joined Penguins owner Lemieux in elite company.
  • The Penguins penalty kill is the best in the NHL, killing off 92-of-102 opposition power plays for a 90.2 percent success rate. Over their recent unbeaten streak, Pittsburgh has killed 54-of-56 penalties (96.4 percent), including a current stretch of 29 straight kills. The team has now gone eight consecutive games (and 12 of their past 14) without surrendering an opposition power-play goal. To top it off, Pittsburgh has scored power-play goals in four of their past five games.


Outduel Their Special Teams: Pittsburgh’s special teams have been unstoppable as of late, tallying five power-play goals in their last three games and killing off 29 straight penalties. That being said, the Rangers have recently been impressive in that area as well. They’ve scored with the man-advantage in four consecutive games and their PK has killed 38-of-42 opposition power plays for a 90.5 percent success rate in that span. They’re tied with Pittsburgh for second in the league with five shorthanded goals, including one by Marc Staal in the teams’ last meeting on Nov. 15.

Continue Back-End Production:
Not only have the Penguins defensemen been playing stingy shutdown hockey in the team’s recent 8-0-1 unbeaten streak, they’ve been providing a solid offensive presence as well. Contributions from blueliners like Kris Letang (22 points, second among NHL defensemen) and Alex Goligoski (three game-winning goals) have been the difference in tight games.
C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to  three weeks)
RW Marian Gaborik, illness (day-to-day)
RW Derek Boogard, shoulder (day-to-day)
C Chris Drury, broken index finger (early December)
LW Vinny Prospal, right-knee inflammation (six to eight weeks)
Crosby (18) Dubinsky (12)
Crosby (22) Callahan (12)
Crosby (40) Dubinsky (20)
Engelland (53) Avery (84)
Letang (+11) Sauer (+8)
Crosby (7) Dubinsky (4)
Cooke (2)
Dubinsky (2)
Johnson (7-2-1) Biron (5-2-0)
Johnson (2.00) Biron (2.15)
Johnson (.931) Lundqvist (.919)

Kris Letang - The 23-year-old workhorse has been the unsung hero of the Penguins’ six-game winning streak. With his three helpers in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Calgary, Letang now ranks second in scoring among NHL defensemen with 22 points (4G-18A). The blueliner has four goals over 25 games after getting just three in 73 games last season.
Henrik Lundqvist - After allowing five goals in a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, where he chose not to be relieved in order to work on his game after sitting the previous two contests, Lundqvist rebounded with a 40-save performance en route to notching his third shutout of the season on Friday (tied for third-most in the league). The 28-year-old goalie then made 29 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Nashville.

 Aftermath: Penguins 4, Flames 1     
 Crosby's Trick          
 Notebook: Home-Ice Advantage           
 Fans To Vote In ‘Mario Moments’ Tournament        

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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