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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 10th (All times eastern)

New York Rangers (33-27-7) at Pittsburgh Penguins (36-21-10), 1 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams that have displayed a flair for the dramatic recently meet tonight in the Steel City, as the New York Rangers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

The Rangers have won three straight games and the first two triumphs in that stretch came in shootouts. Pittsburgh has reached the shootout phase in three consecutive tests, winning the first two before dropping a decision to New Jersey on Thursday.

This afternoon's game also features two teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Pittsburgh has 82 points and is fifth in the East standings, while New York's 73 points has them tied for ninth with Toronto. The Rangers and Leafs trail Carolina by just two points for the eighth and final seed in the East.

The Rangers are coming off a home-and-home sweep of the rival Islanders. The Blueshirts beat the Isles 2-1 in both tests, earning the shootout victory Monday at Madison Square Garden before winning in regulation Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.

On Thursday, Petr Prucha scored a power-play goal with just over five minutes to play to lift the Rangers. Paul Mara also lit the lamp while Henrik Lundqvist turned away 30 shots and came up big late for the Rangers.

Unfortunately, the game will be most remembered for the violent actions taken by Isles forward Chris Simon.

Simon was the recipient of a hard, clean check into the boards by Rangers center Ryan Hollweg in the third period. After rising to his skates, Simon spotted Hollweg skating toward him and delivered a vicious two-handed chop with the stick toward Hollweg's face. Hollweg collapsed to the ice and lay motionless for a few moments. Hollweg was not seriously hurt and expects to play in today's contest.

Simon was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for the ugly stick-swinging incident. The length of the suspension is expected to be determined sometime today after a disciplinary hearing.

Meanwhile, the Pens had a two-game win streak halted by the visiting Devils on Thursday. Patrik Elias scored the game-deciding goal in the shootout to lift New Jersey to the 4-3 decision.

Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Sergei Gonchar and Michel Ouellet both added a goal for Pittsburgh.

With his marker on Thursday, Malkin became the first rookie this season to reach 30 goals. The Penguins, who received 39 tallies from rookie Sidney Crosby last year, are the first club with a rookie 30-goal scorer in consecutive seasons since the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins did it 1992-93 and 1993-94. Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg achieved the feat for the Flyers and Joe Juneau and Bryan Smolinski did it for Boston.

Pittsburgh, which is 19-9-5 as the host this year, is playing the middle test of a three-game homestand this afternoon. The Pens have won nine of their last 11 home tests.

The Penguins are have taken three of the five meetings with the Rangers this year, but New York has won seven of the last 12 matchups in the series. The clubs have gone past regulation in three of the five games this year.

03/10 11:16:40 ET


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