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Penguins preview: 2/7 vs. Rangers

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Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the New York Rangers in their final game before the Olympic break. The Penguins have won two games in a row with their most recent victory being a 5-1 rout of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. The Rangers find themselves sitting in second place of the Metropolitan Division, even though they are currently seventeen points back from the Penguins. New York is looking to enter the Olympic break on a winning note after losing to the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, on Thursday.

When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:00 pm/et (Root Sports, MSG2, NHL Network, RDS)

Records: Penguins (40-15-2, 82 pts.); Rangers (31-24-3, 65 pts.)

Season series: Penguins lead 2-1

Last meeting: It’s been a little over a month since the Penguins and Rangers last saw each other back on January 3rd in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 4-0 due to two goals form Jussi Jokinen and goals from Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Kunitz later added another to put the Rangers away, 5-2. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped thirty-three of thirty-five shots for his twenty-third win of the season.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Rick Nash: As of late, the big winger for the Rangers has cooled off, but about a week of two ago Rick Nash went on a streak of five straight games with at least one goal. He has now gone four straight games without registering a single point, but he has shown that he can still be a threat offensively.

2. Penguins second line: Since the turn of the New Year, the Penguins’ second line of Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal have been on fire. The three players are now healthy, and their chemistry is off the chart. It may be a difficult task to keep their dominance going against a team that has allowed only seventy goals on the road, the fifth fewest in the NHL.

Ex-Penguin alert: C Dominic Moore (2006-2007), LW Dan Carcillo (2005-2007), Asst. coach Ulf Samuelsson (1991-1995), Scout Rick Kehoe (1974-1985 as a player, 1985-2001 as a scout or assistant coach, head coach from 2001-2003)

Olympians:

Penguins: C Sidney Crosby, LW Chris Kunitz (Canada); D Brooks Orpik, D Paul Martin, HC Dan Bylsma, Asst. Coach Tony Granato (USA); D Olli Maatta, LW Jussi Jokinen (Finland); C Evgeni Malkin (Russia)

Rangers: RW Ryan Callahan, D Ryan McDonagh, C Derek Stepan (USA); LW Rick Nash (Canada), G Henrik Lundqvist, LW Carl Hagelin (Sweden); LW Mats Zuccarello (Norway)

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), RW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (hand), C Joe Vitale (wrist), D Kris Letang (stroke), LW Taylor Pyatt (lower body)

Rangers: RW Derek Dorsett (broken fibula)

Additional notes:

-In case you haven’t heard, Kris Letang will be out for at least six weeks after suffering a stroke last week.

-The Penguins made a minor trade, sending Paul Thompson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Spencer Machacek.

-Injured players Chris Conner, Joe Vitale, and Beau Bennett skated earlier this morning before the team practice.

Projected lines:

Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)

14 Chris Kunitz-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-49 Brian Gibbons

36 Jussi Jokinen-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal

15 Tanner Glass-16 Brandon Sutter-59 Jayson Megna

39 Harry Zolnierczyk-27 Craig Adams-5 Deryk Engelland

44 Brooks Orpik (A)-7 Paul Martin

3 Olli Maatta-2 Matt Niskanen

4 Rob Scuderi-41 Robert Bortuzzo

29 Marc-Andre Fleury (31-13-1, .918 save %, 2.22 GAA, 4 SO)

Rangers (via Andrew Gross [@AGrossRecord])

20 Chris Kreider-21 Derek Stepan-61 Rick Nash

62 Carl Hagelin-19 Brad Richards (A)-24 Ryan Callahan (C)

67 Benoit Pouliot-16 Derick Brassard-36 Mats Zuccarello

22 Brian Boyle-28 Dominic Moore-13 Dan Carcillo

27 Ryan McDonagh-5 Dan Girardi

18 Marc Staal-6 Anton Stralman

17 John Moore-8 Kevin Klein

30 Henrik Lundqvist (21-18-3, .918 save %, 2.43 GAA, 3 SO)

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