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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, March 28th (All times eastern)

New York Rangers (39-27-9) at Pittsburgh Penguins (40-27-8), 1 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of Atlantic Division rivals will meet for a pivotal Eastern Conference matchup, as the New York Rangers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for an afternoon battle at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins come into today as the sixth seed in the East with 88 points and they are just one behind Carolina for the fifth spot. The Rangers are one point in back of Pittsburgh and two ahead of Montreal, which is currently holding onto the conference's eighth and final postseason berth.

This marks the sixth and final regular-season meeting between the Pens and Blueshirts this year. New York won the first three encounters, but Pittsburgh has responded with victories in the last two meetings. The Rangers have won five of eight and eight of 12 overall in the series, but New York has dropped four straight, seven of eight and nine of its last 11 in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh was handed its first regulation loss in a month last Sunday by Philadelphia, but the Pens rebounded with Wednesday's shutout victory over the Calgary Flames.

The win over Calgary improved the Penguins to 4-1-1 on a season-high eight- game homestand that is scheduled to end Wednesday against New Jersey. Pittsburgh is 22-13-3 as the host club this season.

Kris Letang and Hal Gill each scored a goal and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 31 shots faced for his fourth shutout of the season, as Pittsburgh held off the Flames, 2-0, at the Igloo.

Sidney Crosby notched an assist and extended his point streak to 10 games, while NHL points leader Evgeni Malkin also had a helper for the Penguins. Malkin is leading the NHL with 106 points on the year, while Crosby is third in the league with 96 points.

The Penguins are 13-2-3 since Dan Bylsma took over head coaching duties from the fired Michel Therrien last month.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have lost two of their last three games and are coming off Thursday's disappointing setback in Atlanta. New York led the contest by a 4-1 count at one point, but wound up losing 5-4 in a shootout. Todd White scored the equalizer in the third period and netted the shootout winner to lead the Thrashers to the comeback win at Philips Arena.

Chris Drury scored and added two helpers for New York, which was aiming for its fifth win in six games.

Nikolai Zherdev, Nik Antropov and Markus Naslund also lit the lamp but Stephen Valiquette, getting the start for Henrik Lundqvist, gave up three of Atlanta's four goals over the last 20:21 of regulation in facing 30 shots overall.

Lundqvist, who has a 15-8-3 record in 26 lifetime games against Pittsburgh, is expected to get the start today.

The Rangers are just 16-16-5 as the guest this year and they have lost three of their last four road games. Next up for New York is Monday's home tilt against the rival New Jersey Devils.

03/28 10:30:21 ET

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