The Pittsburgh Penguins’ injury list seems to be growing by the
game, but thanks to Sidney Crosby and some newfound depth, their
winning ways are continuing.
The New York Rangers, meanwhile, are quite relieved their losing
The Penguins try to win a fifth straight game for the second
time in three weeks Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, where
the Rangers can finally say they’ve recorded a victory on their
Pittsburgh’s top four defensemen – Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik,
Paul Martin and Rob Scuderi – are currently injured, and Deryk
Engelland was suspended for five games after delivering a hit to
the head of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday.
Add in long-term injuries to forwards Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass
and Andrew Ebbett, the suspension of James Neal – Wednesday is the
last of his five games – and a lower-body injury that’s kept star
Evgeni Malkin out three of the past six contests – and it’s clear
the Penguins (24-10-1) have had to dig for some depth.
They found some Monday against Toronto, with defenseman Brian
Dumoulin assisting on Chris Conner’s first period goal in his
second NHL game. Rookie Philip Samuelsson – son of Rangers
assistant Ulf – made his NHL debut, fellow rookie Olli Maatta was,
according to coach Dan Bylsma, “our best defenseman tonight,” and
veteran Matt Niskanen played 26 minutes for the third time in five
Having Crosby healthy doesn’t hurt, either. Pittsburgh’s captain
broke a 1-all tie in the third period of the 3-1 win, the Penguins’
ninth in 10 games.
“We keep finding ways,” said Crosby, who has six goals and five
assists during an 11-game point streak. “A lot has to do with the
way the (new guys) are playing.”
Pittsburgh has trailed for a total of 3 minutes, 12 seconds in
its last six games, a feeling that must be foreign to the Rangers
(16-17-1). New York has gone four-plus games – a total of 264
minutes, 2 seconds – without playing with a lead, though it snapped
a four-game slide with Sunday’s 4-3 shootout win over Calgary.
The Rangers are 1-3-1 on their nine-game homestand.
“It’s a big win for us,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after
snapping a personal seven-game home losing streak. “Right now, you
have to look at it as taking baby steps in improving and start
winning. You can’t turn this around right away.
“You start with one period, then two periods, then a game. Then
you start feeling good about yourself.”
Lundqvist, who will start Wednesday, has felt quite good against
the Penguins of late after ending a personal five-game losing
streak in the series. He’s 2-0-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average
in his last three starts versus Pittsburgh, and made 28 stops in
New York’s 5-1 home win Nov. 6.
Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed 11 goals on 64 shots in his last
two trips to the Garden, but he’s been outstanding overall of late.
Fleury has a 1.42 GAA and .952 save percentage in his past seven
Crosby, on the other hand, has endured a bit of a drought
against the Rangers. He’s failed to record a point in his last two
and he’s played 11 straight versus New York without scoring a goal
despite tallying 11 assists.
The Rangers, who continue to play without captain Ryan Callahan
(MCL) and defenseman Marc Staal (concussion), may have a source of
offense Wednesday in Derick Brassard. The second-line center has
just five goals and is a team-worst minus-10, but he has two goals
and three assists in the Penguins’ last two visits to MSG.