The Blueshirts and Penguins will do battle for the last time this season as the Rangers look to close the gap in their pursuit of a playoff spot (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Penguins|
The Rangers offense had another explosion as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4 on Tuesday. This is the third time in the last eleven games that the Rangers have scored at least eight goals. Adam Fox recorded three points and is now tied for most points in the league among defensemen.
“When you have a guy like Fox, he makes everyone out there better,” said head coach David Quinn.
It was far from a perfect performance as the Rangers defensively were often exposed. Despite allowing four goals, Igor Shesterkin had a solid game with timely saves to help preserve the Rangers lead. Shesterkin finished the game with 41 saves on 45 shots.
“We were very opportunistic…,” Quinn said. “We will have to play differently to win consistently.”
And now the Rangers and the Penguins will do battle for one last time this season. The Blueshirts are 2-3-2 against the Penguins this season and a win tonight will officially get them back to NHL .500 against the Penguins for the season. With such an important game upcoming, it will be interesting to see how the Rangers respond. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Rangers players and staff were vaccinated for COVID-19 following the conclusion of Tuesday’s game. The Blueshirts canceled practice on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects from the vaccine.
Assuming there are no lingering effects – the Rangers are expected to stick with the same lineup that won on Tuesday. However, Quinn suggested that the lineup is currently up in the air and he is not sure who is in and who is out. Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier, and Anthony Bitetto were the healthy scratches last game, and any of them may get an opportunity in the lineup.
With the Penguins dealing with multiple injuries including Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen, defenseman Mike Matheson has been contributing to the Penguins offense. Matheson has six points in the past four games including a goal and an assist against the Blueshirts during Tuesday’s game.
The Penguins will turn right back to Tristan Jarry who was replaced after the first period. Jarry allowed four goals on eleven shots in the first period. Jarry had missed the previous two games due to injury.
Igor Shesterkin will make his fourth straight start and he has started six of the last seven games for the Rangers.
With a win tonight, the Blueshirts could pull to within seven points of the Penguins and potentially just three points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot.