Pens seek to stay hot against the Rangers

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try for a fourth straight victory this evening, when they visit the rival New York Rangers for an Atlantic Division showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Prior to their recent wins over Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida, the Penguins had gone 0-6 from Dec. 29-Jan. 11. Pittsburgh hopes to have put its longest skid in six years in the past, but the Pens will receive a stiff test tonight from the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers.

The Penguins, who have scored 12 goals over their three-game winning streak, are currently sitting fourth in the Atlantic and are 10 points behind the first-place Rangers. Pittsburgh is also tied with Florida for the final two playoff spots in the East.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have split their last four games, but are 12-3 over their last 15 trips to the ice. New York is also 2-0 against Pittsburgh this year and has won four straight in the series overall and the last two encounters at MSG.

The Penguins recorded a shootout win Tuesday against visiting Carolina, as James Neal scored the game-deciding goal in the final phase and lifted Pittsburgh to the 2-1 victory.

Evgeni Malkin scored in regulation for Pittsburgh, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves as the Penguins snapped a four-game home losing streak. Pittsburgh is 12-10-2 as the road team and has won two straight as the guest.

"It was a good team effort and good for our confidence," Fleury said about Tuesday's win.

While captain and superstar forward Sidney Crosby is still sidelined with a concussion, there is a chance Pittsburgh's top defenseman Kris Letang could return tonight from a head injury that has sidelined him since late November.

Letang, who has been out since suffering a concussion in Montreal on Nov. 26, has received a full medical clearance to play and is working himself back into game shape. He was off to a terrific start to the season before getting hurt, posting 19 points (3 goals, 16 assists) in 22 games.

"There's a chance for Kris (Thursday) night and the remaining games going into the break," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told his team's website after Wednesday's practice.

Pens forward Arron Asham is questionable for tonight with an illness.

The Rangers were in action Tuesday and notched a 3-0 win over visiting Nashville as Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season. Lundqvist could get the call again tonight and is 22-13-5 with a 2.39 goals-against average in 40 career games against the Penguins.

"Going into this game we talked about playing a confident team and they were on a roll," said Lundqvist. "I felt like the first 10 minutes they made some good plays, but then we took over a little bit. We started playing more physical and slowed them down a little bit."

Dan Girardi, John Mitchell and Ryan Callahan lit the lamp for New York, which won for the sixth time in eight games.

The Rangers are 14-4-2 as the host this year and are completing a brief two- game homestand tonight.