NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 1st (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (33-20-9) at New York Rangers (30-27-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will bring a few new faces to the rink this evening, when they head to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers.
On Tuesday morning, the Pens convinced 40-year-old winger Gary Roberts to waive his no-trade clause and leave sunny Florida for the Steel City. Pittsburgh sent defenseman Noah Welch to the Panthers in exchange for Roberts, owner of 13 goals this season and 424 tallies over his 19-year NHL career.
Pittsburgh also nabbed veteran forward Georges Laraque from the Phoenix Coyotes for forward Daniel Carcillo and a third-round pick in the 2008 draft. Laraque is best known as an enforcer, a role he may have to resume in order to protect Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pens, but is also an underrated offensive player.
Both Roberts and Laraque are expected to ready for action tonight in the Big Apple.
The Penguins are coming off back-to-back losses, marking the first time the club has dropped consecutive games since a three-game skid from January 7-10.
The latest setback for Pittsburgh came Tuesday night against the rival Devils, as Martin Brodeur notched his NHL-leading 12th shutout of the season to lead New Jersey to the 1-0 victory at Mellon Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves for the Penguins, who are now 1-3-0 after a streak of 17 consecutive games in which they earned at least one point (15-0-2).
With the win, New Jersey increased its lead in the Atlantic Division to 11 points over the Penguins. Pittsburgh is also running fifth in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Penguins, who are 15-11-5 as the visitor this year, are beginning a brief two-game road trip tonight. They will also head to Carolina on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Rangers ended a three-game slide with Tuesday's 4-0 triumph over the visiting Canadiens. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots to post his third shutout of the season to lead New York.
Marcel Hossa scored twice and added an assist while Jaromir Jagr and Matt Cullen each finished with a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who won for just the second time in six games.
New York has 66 points on the year and is still battling to get back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Rangers currently trail Montreal and the Islanders by six points for the last two postseason spots in the East.
The Rangers made one notable trade on Tuesday, as they swapped defenseman with the Bruins. New York ended up with Paul Mara and sent the disgruntled Aaron Ward to Boston.
New York is playing the fourth test of a six-game homestand tonight. The Blueshirts are 13-14-4 as the host this season.
The Penguins and the Rangers have split four meetings this year, with New York taking the two most recent encounters. New York has won five of eight and seven of the last 11 clashes between the clubs.
03/01 10:48:50 ET