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Monday, March 19th (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (41-21-10) at New York Rangers (35-28-9), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins take their impressive hot streak into the Big Apple tonight for an important late-season showdown with the playoff-hopeful New York Rangers.
The youthful Penguins have ripped off five consecutive victories and enter this key matchup with a 7-0-1 mark over their last eight games. Pittsburgh continued its winning ways with a hard-fought decision over Ottawa on Sunday, with Jarkko Ruutu netting the lone goal in the shootout to give the Pens a 4-3 triumph.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in regulation, then stopped all three Senator skaters during the deciding phase to help the Penguins pull even with Ottawa in the Eastern Conference standings. The clubs are now tied for the fourth playoff spot in the East with 92 points.
NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist to extend his scoring streak to six games. The All-Star center has compiled 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) over that span.
Ryan Whitney also finished with a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, which began this current win streak with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers on March 10.
New York is coming off its easiest win of the season, a 7-0 shellacking of Boston Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The victory put the Rangers into the eighth and final postseason slot in the conference, one point in front of Montreal, Toronto and the crosstown-rival Islanders.
Matt Cullen led Saturday's rout with two goals and an assist, while Sean Avery scored once and assisted on three others to help New York end a two-game slide. Ryan Callahan scored his first two career goals on the night, while netminder Henrik Lundqvist recorded his fourth shutout of the season by stopping all 30 shots he faced.
Jaromir Jagr had three assists in the game and reached the 900-helper plateau for his career. He is the 17th player in NHL history to reach that mark.
On a down note, Rangers forward Martin Straka left the game with a leg injury in the first period and is not expected to play tonight. New York also has three regulars -- defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Karel Rachunek and left wing Marcel Hossa -- out with knee injuries, while All-Star forward Brendan Shanahan remains sidelined with a concussion suffered last month.
The Rangers, who trail Carolina by a single point for seventh place in the East, are playing the second test of a three-game homestand which concludes Wednesday against Philadelphia. The Rangers are 17-15-5 at the Garden this season.
The last four meetings in this series have been decided by overtime or a shootout, with each team winning twice during that span. Pittsburgh has taken four of the six overall encounters with New York in 2006-07, however, and is 2-0-1 at Madison Square Garden this season.
03/19 10:42:17 ET
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