Pregame Analysis

Rangers Ride Georgiev Into Pittsburgh

After another strong performance against the Buffalo Sabres, Alexandar Georgiev will start Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins (12:30 P.M. ET, NBC).

“You have to bring your best every game, no matter what happened lastgame,” said Georgiev.

Friday night, the Blueshirts took the lead early and they wouldn’t look back. They led the game from start to finish and won 6-2. But with the Rangers top line kept off the scoresheet, it was the depth that gave the Blueshirts the goal support. Goal scorers included Boo Nieves, Jesper Fast, Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich and two from Vladislav Namestnikov. Buchnevich and Namestnikov’s first goal occurred in an eight second span. The only point registered by the first line came on a secondary assist by Mats Zuccarello on Namestnikov’s empty net goal.

Georgiev registered 31 saves for his third straight win. In his four starts since the all-star break, the 23-year-old has stopped 131 out of 138 shots (.949 save percentage). With another strong performance, Georgiev has earned his second straight start.

“He’s been rolling now after that last game we played and he’s come up with big saves,” said Mika Zibanejad. “It’s fun to watch.”

“He’s got an incredible mental makeup, he’s got great physical skills,and that’s why we feel about him the way we do,” said head coach David Quinn. “I’mnot surprised at what he’s doing.”

Georgiev will have to bring his best in Sunday afternoon’s game as he willface off against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. The Penguins find themselvessitting one point out of the final wildcard spot, despite recently adding NickBjugstad.

Brady Skjei left Friday’s game due to injury and is a game-timedecision. If Skjei isn’t available, Filip Chytil, a healthy scratch in Buffalo,could draw back into the lineup.

“I don’t want him sitting (toolong),” Quinn said. “I want him in the lineup.”

 Freddy Claesson is also clearedto return and he is itching to get back in the lineup after suffering ashoulder injury in January.

“Freddy’s been cleared to go, so it all depends on who’s available, whether Brady’s available,” said Quinn.

Casey DeSmith will oppose Georgiev. DeSmith came in relief Satudayafternoon and stopped all seven shots he faced.

Phil Kessel registered his 800th career point Saturdayafternoon and he became just the 17th U.S. – born player to reach the800-point plateau.

Kessel will feature on the Penguins top powerplay unit which ranks 5thin the NHL, including 3 powerplay goals on Saturday.

Namestnikov has averaged a point-per-game against the Penguins in hiscareer. The Rangers third line, which scored three goals in Buffalo, will likelystay together and play important minutes as the Rangers look to slow downSidney Crosby. Namestnikov, Strome and Fast were matched up against Jack Eichelin the third period and helped limit Buffalo’s top line.

“When they switched the matchups in thethird and they had Eichel against us, I think (Quinn) felt comfortable withthat, and I think as a line you kind of get confidence from that when you feelthe trust from your coach and play against those players,” said Strome.

Projected Lineup:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello

Vesey-Hayes-Buchnevich

Namestnikov-Strome-Fast

Chytil-Nieves-Brickley

Staal-Pionk

DeAngelo-McQuaid

Smith-Shattenkirk

Georgiev

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