NHL

Penguins-Rangers Preview

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2014, file photo, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalance in Pittsburgh. Two years ago, Fleury briefly lost his starting job in the playoffs. Now the goaltender Photo:

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2014, file photo, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalance in Pittsburgh. Two years ago, Fleury briefly lost his starting job in the playoffs. Now the goaltender

If league history is any indication, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a 9.8 percent chance of overcoming their 3-1 series deficit to the New York Rangers.

Considering their offensive play against Henrik Lundqvist, those odds seem generous.

New York will look to close out its first-round series in Game 5 and hand the Penguins yet another disappointing postseason exit Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Penguins have been the Eastern Conference's best regular-season team since 2009-10, but have seldom carried that success into the postseason, where they've advanced to the conference finals only once in the past five years - a 4-0 sweep by Boston in 2013.

They're facing another early elimination this time around after losing games 3 and 4 at home, dropping them into a 3-1 series deficit.

The defeats were strikingly similar. Pittsburgh tallied only 24 shots in a 2-1 loss on Monday and 23 shots in another 2-1 defeat Wednesday in overtime. Patric Hornqvist scored the Penguins' lone goal in each game.

"Whether it's 2-1, 5-1, we've done a lot of good things," Sidney Crosby said. "Regardless of the score, it doesn't make it easy when you don't find a way to win. But I think it's encouraging that some of the things we've been doing have put us in pretty good positions to win a hockey game. We just have to get that last one."

Crosby scored twice in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win in Game 2, but has managed only one assist otherwise. Evgeni Malkin has done far less, tallying zero points in his last nine games and failing to score in his past 14 dating to March 7.

Despite the two-game advantage, New York knows better than to fall victim to complacency. Of the 275 teams in league history facing a 3-1 deficit, the Rangers were the 27th and most recent to rally, knocking off the Penguins in seven games in last season's second round.

"Several of the players have been through the reversal last year," Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. "That's the easiest message. We were leading on New York 3-1 and the whole series changed.

"This game, going into New York - we win, the series changes completely and it heads in our favor for sure."

Lundqvist posted a .957 save percentage over the Rangers' last two victories. His 96 all-time postseason appearances rank second among active goaltenders, behind only Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (97).

Lundqvist, who has won six of his last seven postseason starts against the Penguins with a 1.42 goals-against average, expects an far-improved performance from Pittsburgh on Friday.

"It's a desperation moment for them, and the key is to match that," Lundqvist told the NHL's official website. "You have to grab every opportunity you get to finish a series. You can't just think you have more chances. You've gotta go for it and match their desperation."

Kevin Hayes netted the overtime winner in Game 4 for the first postseason goal of his career. Derick Brassard scored earlier in the contest for his third goal of the series, moving into a tie with Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh for second on the team with three points apiece.

Rick Nash leads the way for New York with one goal and three assists.

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