UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NHL

Rangers-Penguins Preview

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (36), of Finland, fights for control of the puck with New York Rangers' Dominic Moore (28) and Marc Staal (18) during the first period of a second-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Ne Photo:

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jussi Jokinen (36), of Finland, fights for control of the puck with New York Rangers' Dominic Moore (28) and Marc Staal (18) during the first period of a second-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Ne

The Pittsburgh Penguins' only loss in nine games came against the New York Rangers, and it wasn't pretty.

They'll try to return the favor Saturday night, but they may need to solve Henrik Lundqvist as the Penguins and Rangers meet for the second time in five days, this time at Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh (11-3-1) is atop the Metropolitan Division and has scored 34 goals during its current run, netting at least three in all but two.

One of those off nights offensively came at New York (7-6-3) on Tuesday, when the Penguins gave up three first-period goals in a 5-0 defeat - easily their most lopsided of the season.

Pittsburgh, however, bounced back from that listless effort by concluding a 4-1-0 road trip with a 2-1 victory over Toronto on Friday.

"Given the game we had in New York, I think guys were pretty motivated here," superstar center Sidney Crosby said. "We don't like seeing that happen, especially when it's your work ethic. When that comes into question, I think, guys have a lot of pride.

"You can't have that happen two nights in a row, so it was a good response from everyone."

Building on that, however, will likely require beating Lundqvist more than once. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner had 33 saves Tuesday for his third shutout of the season, and he's compiled a 0.75 goals-against average while winning four straight meetings, including his sublime play in last season's second-round playoff series.

Lundqvist was vital to the Rangers overcoming a 3-1 series deficit, yielding one goal in each of the final three games - including a 35-save effort in a 2-1 victory in Game 7 at Pittsburgh.

Crosby hasn't managed a point and is a minus-4 in the past four overall matchups with New York, and he's scored just once on 26 shots in nine meetings - all against Lundqvist.

Still, the reigning Hart Trophy winner leads the NHL with 25 points this season after assisting on the game-winner of Pascal Dupuis' two goals Friday.

Dupuis has nine points in 11 games against the Rangers, but missed last spring's playoff series recovering from a torn ACL.

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start opposite Lundqvist again, and he has a 3.61 GAA while losing the last four matchups. His 30 saves weren't nearly enough Tuesday, but that was enough for backup Thomas Greiss against the Maple Leafs.

While the Penguins bounced back, the Rangers failed to build on their momentum and fell 4-3 in a shootout to Colorado on Thursday, losing for the third time in four tries (1-2-1).

Coach Alain Vigneault, though, isn't concerned.

"We're a work in progress," Vigneault said. "Most teams take 20 games to sort things out; we're at game 16. I think we're on the right track. I know our guys are working extremely hard. The atmosphere is very professional. The mood is upbeat. Guys are looking at improving their game. We're got a good group here.

"We'll sort it out."

Derek Stepan is looking to build on his first goal of the season from Thursday, and he has four points in as many games since returning from a broken leg suffered in preseason.

The center has four assists in the past three matchups with the Penguins, including one on the series-clinching goal in Game 7. He got two more Tuesday, setting up Rick Nash for one.

Nash is tied with Dallas' Tyler Seguin for the NHL lead with 12 goals, but he has just one assist in his past six visits to Pittsburgh.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NHL

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.