NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, January 5th
(All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (19-16-4) at New York Rangers (23-14-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Penguins have dropped a season-high four straight
games. Their losing streak at Madison Square Garden is even longer. Pittsburgh
will try to halt a seven-game road losing streak to the New York Rangers in
the final meeting between the two clubs this year at MSG.
The Penguins have struggled since a 1-0 victory over New Jersey back on
December 26. They fell in defeat at home versus Montreal before getting swept
in a home-and-home set by Boston to bridge 2008 and '09. Pittsburgh returned
home to host Florida on Saturday, but was routed 6-1.
Ruslan Fedotenko had the lone goal on the day that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni
Malkin were both named starters for the upcoming All-Star game. Crosby, who is
third in the NHL with 50 points, set a record with 1,713,021 votes, surpassing
Jaromir Jagr's previous record of 1,020,736 tallies set in 2000.
Crosby, though, has just a goal and two assists over Pittsburgh's losing
streak and is a minus-four in that span, while Malkin has just an assist in
the four games. He does still lead the NHL with 60 points, however.
The two will try to help Pittsburgh avoid its first five-game skid since
December 16-27, 2006.
Starting netminder Marc-Andre Fleury allowed two goals on five shots in the
first period before being pulled on Saturday, then stopped six-of-seven shots
over the final 20 minutes to suffer the loss. Dany Sabourin was victimized for
three goals on 12 shots in the second period.
Fleury has now lost three straight starts and has yielded 11 goals in that
span. Sabourin hasn't been much better, having lost his last five starts.
Pittsburgh will play four of its next five on the road and is 11-7-2 as the
visiting team this year.
The Penguins also shoot for their first victory in New York since a 4-3
shootout win on March 1, 2007. Pittsburgh has dropped a pair of 3-2 shootout
games in New York already this season.
The Rangers, who have won three straight and seven of their last nine overall
versus the Penguins, have also struggled as of late. Saturday's 2-1 loss to
Washington was their fourth in the last five games and the club is now a point
back of Philadelphia for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Petr Prucha picked up the only goal for the Rangers. Stephen Valiquette got
the start for an ill Henrik Lundqvist and was strong in the loss with 29
Lundqvist is coming off a December that saw him go just 4-5-1 with an unusual
3.74 goals against average. He'll likely try to get back on track tonight and
is 14-6-3 with a 2.09 GAA lifetime versus Pittsburgh.
The Rangers play the first of back-to-back home games tonight and are 13-7-2
as the host. They will battle Montreal in New York on Wednesday before hitting
the road for five straight.
01/05 10:35:37 ET