The last time the New York Rangers took on the Pittsburgh Penguins, they had a big lump of coal in their stocking via a dreadful second period that saw them let in five goals.
A pre-Christmas showdown offers them a shot at redemption, as the Rangers take a trip to Steel City to battle the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena (7:00, MSG2).
The Rangers (23-10-1) enter winners of their past three games, victorious after a weekend pair of wins over Nashville and New Jersey, both coming via shootout. Henrik Lundqvist played the hero in both games, while Mats Zuccarello scored a goal in both shootouts. The Rangers did receive some bad news about Rick Nash, who scored two goals in his first two games back returning from injury, as it was reported the winger would be out indefinitely. Nash tallied the lone regulation goal in the Rangers’ 2-1 win over the Predators on Saturday night.
The Penguins (20-7-5), like the Rangers, are caught up in the five team logjam that is the Metropolitan Division. Through their first nine games of December, the Penguins are a whopping 7-0-2, but have dropped their past two games in overtime to Los Angeles and Toronto. Marc Andre-Fleury made 41 saves in Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs, but Jake Gardiner put in the game winner two minutes into the overtime period.
This will be the third meeting between the two division and playoff rivals, with the two teams earning healthy victories on the other’s home ice. While Pittsburgh took a 6-1 decision at Madison Square Garden on November 23, the Rangers won 5-2 as the establishment formerly known as Consol Energy Center two days prior. Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Rangers scored five unanswered goals, each coming from a different player. Ryan McDonagh wound up assisting on two, while Antti Raanta, who will make his first start since December 13 tonight, made 29 saves.
The teams will meet twice more this season, but not again until March 31.