Pens try to push win streak to 8 in battle with Rangers
The sizzling Pittsburgh Penguins will take aim at an eighth straight victory when they host Saturday's Atlantic Division battle with the New York Rangers.
Pittsburgh's seven-game winning streak began on March 2 in Montreal and the club's latest triumph was Thursday's 3-1 decision in Toronto. It is the longest winning streak for the Penguins since last year's 11-game tear from Feb. 21-March 17.
The Rangers, meanwhile, appeared to be on the right track with four straight wins from Feb. 28-March 7. However, John Tortorella's club has since lost three of four and New York has scored a total of two goals in losing its last two tilts in regulation.
A meeting against the Penguins would be an unlikely cure to the Rangers' problems, however, as Pittsburgh has won six straight in this series, including two encounters this season in New York City.
Pittsburgh won a 6-3 decision at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 20 and then notched a 3-0 shutout win on Jan. 31. James Neal notched a combined total of three goals for the Pens in those two victories.
The Rangers have lost two straight and nine of their last 14 road games in this series.
Pittsburgh's most recent win -- Thursday's 3-1 decision at Air Canada Centre -- allowed the club to tie the Montreal Canadiens for the top seed in the East. Both the Pens and Canadiens have 40 points and Montreal is also in action Saturday against New Jersey.
Pascal Dupuis scored a pair of late goals to lift Pittsburgh to the win in Toronto. Craig Adams also tallied, while Chris Kunitz posted two assists for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury snagged the win with 28 stops.
"We didn't make it easy on ourselves," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "We didn't execute very well, especially the first two periods. We were pretty sloppy. But just kept it simple in the third and tried to give ourselves a chance to get back in the game. We were fortunate we were able to do that."
Pittsburgh continued its winning streak despite playing its third straight game without forward Evgeni Malkin, who is sidelined with an unspecified upper-body injury. The reigning Hart Trophy winner is expected to sit out a fourth consecutive game on Saturday.
The Rangers were handed their second straight 3-1 loss on Thursday, falling to 1-2 on a four-game road trip with the setback in Winnipeg. Antti Miettinen scored the lead goal in the second period and Andrew Ladd netted a late insurance tally to lift the Jets.
Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves and Ryan Callahan provided the lone offense for the Rangers, who fell two points behind Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
"We had some chances that we didn't capitalize on, they scored a deflection goal to take a lead and we just didn't generate much offense in the third period," said Tortorella.
The setback dropped the Rangers to 4-6-1 as the visiting team this season.