The New York Rangers appear to be back on track after a poor
start to the season. The opposite has been true for the Pittsburgh
Penguins, whose sudden dropoff after a solid opening has them
searching for answers.
The Rangers, though, will try to begin making do without captain
Ryan Callahan as they look to stop a pair of losing streaks against
Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
New York (3-3-0) won for the third time in four games Tuesday,
holding off Philadelphia 2-1 to improve to 2-0 on its three-game
homestand. Despite some more of the sloppy play that has hindered
them in the early going – the club took three consecutive penalties
in the third period – the Rangers got goals from Michael Del Zotto
and Callahan while Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves.
The victory proved to be somewhat bittersweet, however, as
Callahan skated off with his left arm dangling after a third-period
scrum with Max Talbot, who dragged him to the ice. He suffered a
shoulder subluxation that will keep him out 10-14 days, though New
York has to be happy that he avoided a major injury.
“Cally does everything so well – the little plays, especially
blocking shots,” said Del Zotto, who also assisted on Callahan’s
power-play tally. “The guys did a good job of gathering ourselves
after he went off with that injury.”
Despite their surge, coach John Tortorella thinks the Rangers
have a long way to go.
“No,” he said when asked if his team was finding its game. “We
have a lot more work to do.”
However, they’ve certainly progressed since a 6-3 loss to
Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 that dropped them to 0-2. James Neal scored
twice and Evgeni Malkin had three assists in the Penguins’ second
victory in as many games to open 2012-13.
Pittsburgh (3-3-0) has won five straight in the series,
outscoring New York 22-8, and taken three in a row at Madison
The Penguins, however, have been struggling since that win,
getting outscored 14-7 in dropping three of four and looking
listless again in a 4-1 home loss to the Islanders on Tuesday.
Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after the second period and
Pittsburgh gave it away 11 times, with two of the turnovers leading
to New York goals. The Islanders had lost in 13 of the last 14 road
games in the series.
“I’m not sure if we’re pressing early, and then it doesn’t
happen and you get away from things,” center Sidney Crosby said.
“As you see tonight, we get a couple bad bounces, ended up down
early and seems like we let that frustration kind of get to
The frustration appears to be extending to the power play. Since
going 4 for 8 in the first two games, the Penguins are 1 for
“We definitely deflated ourselves with the power play,” Neal
said Tuesday. “But we’ve just got to have a better effort all over
the ice, 5-on-5 and we just didn’t have it tonight.”
Lundqvist was chased in the second period Jan. 20 after giving
up four goals on 18 shots and has lost three straight starts to
Pittsburgh with a 3.68 goals-against average. However, he’s gone
3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in the last four games.
Malkin has five goals and five assists during the Penguins’
five-game run versus the Rangers, while Neal has two goals and four
assists in his last four in the series.