(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to prevent the New York Rangers from grabbing a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals when the rivals meet Wednesday in the Steel City.
The clubs split the first two tests of this best-of-seven set in New York, but the Rangers claimed Game 3 at Consol Energy Center. Another victory on Wednesday would give the Blueshirts an opportunity to close out the series in Friday's Game 5 clash at Madison Square Garden.
Pittsburgh failed to build off a 4-3 victory in Game 2, as it fell 2-1 in its first home test of the series on Monday. Each of the first three games in this series have been decided by just one goal and both of New York's victories have come by 2-1 scores.
Henrik Lundqvist anchored the Game 3 victory for the Presidents' Trophy winners, as he came up big down the stretch and finished with 23 saves for the Rangers. The Swedish netminder earned the 45th playoff victory of his career and 15th since the start of the 2014 postseason, which ended with New York's five-game loss to Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider each scored for the Rangers, while Dan Girardi supplied two assists.
New York owns an 8-1 series record after winning Game 3 on the road, dating back to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 1984 against the Islanders
Patric Hornqvist tallied a late goal for the Penguins, cutting the deficit to 2-1 with 6:48 left in the third period. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby posted the primary assist on Hornqvist's goal, giving him three points (2G, 1A) in this series.
"Sometimes it's hard to realize what you do in the first or second (period) really means as much as it does," Crosby said. "You have to find that level of desperation for the entire game."
Marc-Andre Fleury put forth another strong effort in Game 3, stopping 24 shots. The Pens goaltender has a .922 save percentage in the series, allowing seven goals on 90 shots.
While Crosby has been productive for Pittsburgh, fellow star centerman Evgeni Malkin has yet to register a point through three games.
"I'm not happy with my game right now, but I'm focused on the next game," Malkin said. "The series is not over. We can come back and I can change my game, play a little bit better. I'll stay positive."
Penguins forward Beau Bennett missed Monday with an upper-body injury and was replaced by Scott Wilson, who played in just his second career game. Bennett did practice on Tuesday and could be back in the lineup tonight.
Defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who has missed five straight games for Pittsburgh dating back to the regular season, also skated at Tuesday's practice and is questionable for tonight with an upper-body issue. However, fellow blueliners Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang are still out with their upper-body injuries.
Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein was cleared to practice with the team Monday morning for the first time since breaking his arm on March 11, but still missed Game 3. Klein is day-to-day, but it's likely he will sit out a 20th straight game tonight.
New York is attempting to eliminate the Pens from the postseason for a second straight spring. Pittsburgh held a 3-1 lead in last year's conference semifinals matchup before losing in seven.
After storming back to defeat Pittsburgh in last season's playoffs, the Rangers posted a 3-0-1 record in four meetings during the 2014-15 season series. New York outscored the Pens by a 16-8 margin during the regular season.
New York's seven-game series' win over the Pens last season marked the club's first-ever victory over Pittsburgh in the postseason. The Rangers had lost the previous four encounters before charging back to defeat Pittsburgh a year ago.