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Rangers Host Penguins at MSG

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers (1-5-0, 2 pts) vs Penguins (3-2-1, 7 pts)
7 pm at Madison Square Garden
MSG Network; WOR 710 AM

The Game

The Rangers look to snap out of a three-game skid tonight when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.

New York is coming off a 3-2 defeat Saturday night by the New Jersey Devils, a game in which the Blueshirts controlled the play early and late. The problem, though, was a dip in play in the middle period that saw the Rangers surrendered a lead that eventually ballooned to two-goal deficit one minute into the third period.

The Rangers have struggled at 5-on-5 through the early part of this season, with just eight goals at even strength through the campaign's first six contests. In addition, just eight Rangers have found the back of the net, with Mika Zibanejad leading the way with five tallies. No other Ranger has more than Kevin Shattenkirk's two.

"You always talk about getting opportunities, but sometimes you've got to finish those," said Rick Nash, who scored his first goal of the season Saturday. "Especially when you're struggling. You've got to bear down and make sure you put the puck in the back of the net."

Henrik Lundqvist will get the start for the Rangers after serving as the backup on Saturday. He's 1-3 with a 2.82 GAA and a .914 SV% with a shutout this season.

Pittsburgh is coming off a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday that saw Sidney Crosby score two goals and goaltender Matt Murray make 43 saves in the win.

The Penguins are one of the most offensively-gifted squads in the NHL with 20 goals through six games, good enough for sixth in the league. Unsurprisingly, Crosby is tied for the team lead in points with eight alongside Bryan Rust. Defenseman Olli Maatta is off to a strong start with six points in six games, including a pair of goals. All told, just one player - Brian Dumoulin - has appeared in all six games without registering at least one point.

Murray has three wins in four starts as the team's No. 1 goaltender, but has struggled early with a 3.29 GAA and a .899 SV%, and that includes one shutout.

Players to Watch

After getting off the schnide Saturday, Nash was moved up to play alongside Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello Monday at practice. Pittsburgh is a team No. 61 has had success against with 14 goals and 23 assists in 28 career games, including 11 points in his last 10 games against the divisional rival.

Forward Jake Guentzel made a name for himself last season when he scored twice against the Rangers in his NHL debut on his way to one of the best playoff performances of any rookie in history with 13 goals and 21 points in 25 games. 

The 23-year-old picked up where he left off last spring with two goals and three assists for five points in six games.

Rangers Projected Lineup

Rick Nash - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Chris Krieder - David Desharnais - J.T. Miller
Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Michael Grabner - Adam Cracknell - Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh - Tony DeAngelo
Marc Staal - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Brendan Smith

Henrik Lundqvist

Say What?

"Our spirits are still high. We've got a lot of fight in this room. Obviously it's frustrating, the start we've had. We're trying to make improvement every day. We're focused on tomorrow night and getting a win against Pittsburgh." - Brady Skjei on the team's mindset heading into Tuesday

Inside the Numbers

The Rangers have earned at least one point in 14 of their last 19 games against the Penguins, dating back to Apr. 3, 2013 (9-5-5 record over the span).

The Rangers have won 52.4% of faceoffs taken through six games this season (192-for-366), including 53.4% of faceoffs taken in the defensive zone. New York ranks 11th in the NHL in faceoff win percentage thus far this season.

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