The New York Rangers will try to continue their dominance of the Atlantic Division when they visit the rival Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center.
The Rangers have posted an 11-3-1 record against its Atlantic foes this year and hold a nine-point lead over New Jersey for first place in the division. The Penguins and Philadelphia are just one point in back of the Devils for second in the Atlantic and the fourth seed in the East.
New York, which also leads the East by nine points over Boston, is 2-1 against the Penguins this year, but the Blueshirts will be seeking revenge when it faces Pittsburgh tonight. The Pens notched a 4-1 victory in New York City on Jan. 19 to end the Rangers' four-game winning streak in this series. New York still enters this evening's game riding a five-game road winning streak in Pittsburgh.
Derek Stepan scored just 22 seconds into overtime, lifting New York to a 3-2 home victory over the Blue Jackets. Stepan one-timed a feed from Michael Del Zotto into the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season.
"I thought we got underneath the hash marks and forechecked, kept the puck and developed some scoring chances," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said. "We played better territorially than we have the past couple of games and hopefully we can build off of it."
New York defenseman Steve Eminger suffered a leg injury in Sunday's win and is questionable for tonight. Forward Ruslan Fedotenko has missed the last five games with a concussion, but he has been skating and is also questionable for tonight.
The Rangers have won three straight on the road and are opening a two-game road trip tonight. New York, which is 19-7-3 as the guest this year, will complete the brief swing Friday against the rival Islanders.
The Penguins had an up-and-down weekend, as they downed the rival Flyers by a 6-4 score Saturday in Philadelphia, but were then routed the following day in Buffalo. The Sabres scored the game's first three goals and skated away with a 6-2 decision over the visiting Pens, who lost for the second time in three games.
"It was a bad game for us, especially going down 2-0 in the beginning. It's tough to come back and after that we had a lot of penalties," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said.
Pittsburgh backup goaltender Brent Johnson had a rare start on Sunday and was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots. Marc-Andre Fleury didn't fare any better, however, as he also let up three tallies on 12 shots.
Evgeni Malkin had an assist in the loss, but has gone three straight games without a goal, marking his longest goal-scoring drought since a six-game lapse from Dec. 20-Jan. 6. Malkin leads the NHL with 71 points and is second in the league with 32 goals.
Tonight marks the start of a three-game homestand for Pittsburgh, which is 17-8-2 in the Steel City this season.