New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 PM at CONSOL Energy Center
Where To Watch: MSG2
Where To Listen: 970-AM, The Apple
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers arrived in their Pittsburgh hotel shortly after 1:00 AM Friday morning, a bit more than three hours after Marian Gaborik's overtime goal had lifted them to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. And tonight in Steeltown the Rangers (25-9-4, 54 pts) will be right back on the ice as they face the highly-skilled Pittsburgh Penguins (21-13-4, 46 pts) in a battle pitting two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. But don't expect the Rangers to use the tough back-to-backs against a pair of the NHL's best this season as an excuse for anything but their best this evening. The Rangers continue to prove their collective mettle on a nightly basis---with last night's no-letdown performance following the Winter Classic the latest example---and as a result the Blueshirts find themselves sitting in first place overall in the National Hockey League. Their 54 points are one better than both the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, and they own three games in hand on Vancouver, though Boston does have a game in hand on New York. The Rangers have won three straight, and eight of their last nine, while the Penguins---once again playing without concussed superstar Sidney Crosby---have dropped two consecutive games, though they did win four in a row prior to that. Pittsburgh will be well-rested, having not played in five days.
The Rangers and Penguins are meeting tonight for the second of six meetings. Back on November 29th at The Garden, the Rangers rode a four-goal second period to a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh, which had Crosby healthy and in the lineup that night. Brad Richards recorded three points (1-2-3) for the Rangers in the win. Last season the Rangers won all three of their games played in Pittsburgh, the first for the newly constructed CONSOL Energy Center, meaning that the Blueshirts have yet to lose inside the Penguins new home. Among the wins in Pittsburgh a year ago was the memorable overtime victory on November 15th in which Ryan Callahan netted the winner after Marc Staal had tied the game with a shorthanded tally with just 27 seconds remaining in the third period.
"We have played really well at home, and we have played really well on the road. We haven't changed the way we play from city to city or building to building. The core has remained the same, and it's been a real positive thing that we have been able to get some great results at home and on the road."-Martin Biron
By The Numbers
Though it is a somewhat subjective statistic, the Rangers have been credited with a whopping 50 hits in each of their last two games---Monday's 3-2 Winter Classic victory over the Flyers and Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the Panthers. Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky combined for 21 hits on Monday (11 by the captain), and last night the team was led by Dan Girardi, who had nine, and Ruslan Fedotenko, who had eight.
The Rangers are 13-6-2 on the road this season, tied with Vancouver for the second most road victories. Only the Flyers, with 14, have more.
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