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Sunday, March 21st (All times eastern)

New York Rangers (25-36-7-7) at Pittsburgh Penguins (19-45-7-4), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two teams preparing for yet another early offseason tangle today when the New York Rangers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena for the opener of a home-and-home.

New York was officially eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, falling 3-0 in Philadelphia. The Rangers have not qualified for the postseason since 1997.

In Saturday's tilt, Philly's Robert Esche stopped 24 shots for his third shutout of the season to stymie the Blueshirts.

Jamie McLennan stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced for the Rangers, who have lost five straight games. New York was shut out for the fifth time this season.

New York had a flurry of chances against Esche with nine minutes remaining in the game, with Jan Hlavac, Bobby Holik and Karel Rachunek all getting decent looks. However, Esche kept turning away shots and escaped with the shutout.

The Rangers, who have dropped seven of their last eight road games, will host the Pens on Tuesday to conclude the home-and-home.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has been piling up the points of late. On Friday, Aleksey Morozov scored 1:17 into overtime to lift the Penguins over Carolina, 4-3, at Mellon Arena.

Morozov, Dick Tarnstrom and Ryan Malone each posted a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games.

However, despite the recent success, Pittsburgh remains the worst club in the NHL with 49 points -- three points behind Columbus in the league's overall standings. There is a 50-point gap between the Pens and Detroit, which holds the NHL lead.

Pittsburgh, 4-0-1 in its last five home matches, will begin a brief road trip when it visits New York on Tuesday.

The Penguins defeated the Rangers, 7-4, on March 7 to snap a three-game series losing streak.

03/21 10:06:38 ET


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