After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks in back-to-back nights, the Rangers will conclude a three-game road trip in an important game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|9th||NHL Standing Rank||10th|
Previous Two Games
The Blueshirts were able to continue their winning ways after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 and the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1. In Philadelphia, the Blueshirts didn’t play their best game, but they found a way to escape Philadelphia with two points. New York had six different goal scorers in the game including Jacob Trouba’s first goal of the season, and K’Andre Miller’s second of the season. Ultimately, Jimmy Vesey’s 6th of the year and third goal in two games was the game-winning goal. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves on route to his second win as a Ranger.
In Chicago, the Rangers weren’t as dominant as the scoreboard suggested, but they were as clinical as they have been all season long which paved the way for a comfortable victory. New York scored three goals in a six-minute stretch late in the first period to head into the first intermission up 3-0. Artemi Panarin recorded his eighth goal of the season and scored against his former team. After heading into the final frame up 5-1, the Rangers got two goals from their fourth line in Vitaly Kravtsov and Jonny Brodzinski. Trouba also recorded his second of the season and second in as many games.
The bad news for the Blueshirts was Filip Chytil, who scored in the first period against Chicago, left the game after taking a late hit from Blackhawks forward Sam Lafferty. Chytil would not return and head coach Gerard Gallant called him day-to-day.
Rangers vs Penguins
While the Blueshirts have been hot as winners in each of their past seven games, they face perhaps one of their most important games just under the halfway point of the season. The Blueshirts are taking on their divisional foe – the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season which ultimately saw the Blueshirts erase a 3-1 series deficit and defeat the Penguins in overtime of game seven.
One thing Penguins fans won’t forget is Trouba’s hit on captain Sidney Crosby in game five. Crosby left the game and was unavailable for game six in Pittsburgh which saw the Rangers get a late goal to win the game. It is very likely that Trouba will hear boos from Pittsburgh fans every time he touches the puck on Tuesday night.
Chytil is expected to play however, If the Czech center is unavailable, expect the Blueshirts to shake up their lines with Julien Gauthier returning to the lineup and Barclay Goodrow playing center. New York didn’t recall anyone from Hartford.
The Blueshirts have been excellent on the road this season with a record of 11-4-1. However, the Rangers record against their divisional opponents sit at just 3-4-0. Pittsburgh on the other hand has a home record of 9-3-2 and a division record of 4-1-1. New York is 8-1-1 in their last ten whereas Pittsburgh are 7-2-1.
The Penguins are a veteran team looking to get it done one last time before it is time to rebuild. Entering the season, questions surrounded the Penguins and whether they would be able to keep two key pieces of their aging core in Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. Many thought the Penguins couldn’t afford to keep both and it was also rumored that Malkin wasn’t happy with what the Penguins were offering. Ultimately, both decided to return to Pittsburgh which makes them a very dangerous team. Crosby has 40 points in 31 games whereas Malkin has 32 points in 31 games. But recently, Jake Guentzel has been one of the hottest players in the Pittsburgh lineup. Guentzel has 31 points in 27 games, but he also has 13 points in his previous ten games.
Jeff Petry and Jason Zucker will both be unavailable for the Penguins. Petry is currently on the LTIR due to an upper-body injury and he is not available to play until after the holidays. Zucker is currently week-to-week because of a lower-body injury despite returning to a lightly-attended practice.
Expect a tight and chippy affair as both teams will be really going for this game. It is games like these that may determine who ends up a higher seed in the playoffs or even if one of these teams miss the playoffs.
Expect each team’s starting netminder to be in net as Igor Shesterkin is set to due battle with Tristan Jarry. Shesterkin has been hot as of late having won each of his previous five starts and he has at least a .957 save percentage in four of those five games. Jarry has a 14-3-3 record and he hasn’t had a regulation loss since November 5th against the Seattle Kraken. Jarry is on a six-game winning streak and a twelve-game point streak (10-0-2). The Blueshirts were able to put an end to Mitch Marner’s historic point streak on December 15th and they will look to put an end to Jarry’s great run.
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