Pens aim for 5th straight victory in clash with Rangers
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games when they visit the New York Rangers for Wednesday's Metropolitan Division clash at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins enter Wednesday having won four in a row for the second time this season. Although Pittsburgh is known primarily for its offensive prowess, Dan Bylsma's club has won with solid defense during its current hot streak, allowing a total of five goals during the four-game stretch.
Rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff helped the Pens pitch a shutout in their most recent outing, a 3-0 win at Columbus on Saturday. The 26-year-old Zatkoff, playing in just his third game, stopped 19 shots to help Pittsburgh beat the Jackets for the second time in as many nights. The Pens claimed a 4-2 win over a visiting Columbus squad in the opener of a home-and-home series on Friday.
Deryk Engelland, Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen all lit the lamp for Pittsburgh on Saturday to help Zatkoff earn his first career win.
"I just think the more you play the more experience you get," said Zatkoff. "The guys played great tonight and I didn't have to face too many shots. They did a good job of locking things down."
Regular starter Marc-Andre Fleury expects to be back in net for Pittsburgh on Wednesday. In 45 career outings against the Rangers, Fleury is 24-13-7 with a 2.65 goals against average.
The Pens, who are playing the middle portion of a three-game road trip tonight, hope to have Kunitz in the lineup on Wednesday. Kunitz is dealing with a lower-body injury that caused him to miss practice following Saturday's game. He is questionable for tonight.
Pittsburgh and the Rangers are getting together for the first of four meetings this season. The Pens have dominated New York in recent seasons, winning eight of the past nine overall encounters between the clubs.
The Rangers also had lost four straight on home ice in this series before slamming the Pens by a 6-1 score on April 3 of last season. Fleury yielded all six goals in that loss, while Brian Boyle and Derick Brassard each recorded four-point nights for the Rangers on one goal and three assists apiece.
New York enters Wednesday's contest looking to rebound from a loss. The Blueshirts had won a season-best three straight games before dropping Monday's close decision against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Frederik Andersen stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Ducks to help frustrate the Rangers in a 2-1 regulation decision.
"They're a good team and they showed it tonight, why they are up in the high echelons of the NHL," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault. "They don't give you a lot and they play tight. In the third, we had a number of opportunities that I would have liked us to be able to generate."
Michael Del Zotto had the lone goal of the game for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist gave up both goals on 25 shots in the loss. Lundqvist expects to get the start tonight and is 23-18-6 with a 2.42 GAA in 47 career games versus the Penguins.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan returned to play on Monday for the first time since breaking his thumb on Oct. 16 against Washington. He posted an assist in under 19 minutes of ice time.
New York is completing a four-game homestand on Wednesday and is 2-2-0 at MSG this season.
11/06 10:38:23 ET