Penguins-Rangers Preview

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

Square Garden.

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.