NHL Game Preview - Penguins v Rangers

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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, April 8, 2021
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York  Attendance: 1,800

'Hungry' Rangers aim to sweep home series vs. Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers

  1. Pittsburgh has combined with its opponents for 12 goals in back-to-back games, the first team to do this since the Capitals in January 2019. No team has done so in three straight since the Red Wings in November 1992.
  2. Mark Jankowski has had back-to-back multi-point games after having just five points over his first 33 games this season. His nine points in 35 games this season have already surpassed his point total (seven) in 56 games for the Flames last season.
  3. Adam Fox has 18 points over his last eight games -- only Connor McDavid (20) has had more over any eight-game span this season. The last defensemen to have 18+ points in eight games was Erik Karlsson in December 2018 -- January 2019.
  4. Artemi Panarin had four points last time out and has 11 points over his last four games -- only three players have had more points in any four-game span this season (Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl -- 12 apiece).
  5. The Rangers scored eight goals on Tuesday, their third game this season with at least eight goals. The Avalanche have also had three such games this season, while only two other NHL teams have done so even once (Oilers, Islanders).
  6. Jake Guentzel scored a goal in a third consecutive game on Tuesday, his 17th goal of the season. He's now one of six NHL players with at least 17 goals and 20 assists this season (Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Mikko Rantanen and Brad Marchand).

Whatever it is, the New York Rangers are feeling it.

Not only are they aiming for a two-game sweep Thursday night against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, but also they are looking to continue to climb toward a playoff spot in the East Division.

The Rangers are 8-3-2 in their past 13 games and are five points below the playoff line in the East.

"We're trying to make a push for the playoffs, and there are only so many games left," said New York defenseman Adam Fox, who has an 11-game points streak after notching a goal and two assists Tuesday in an 8-4 win over the Penguins.

"We're a hungry team. Everyone is hungry."

One indication of that might be New York's prolific offense lately, both in numbers and in spreading it around.

Eleven of the Rangers' 18 skaters scored points Tuesday. And their youngsters chipped in - in addition to Fox, 23, Alexis Lafreniere, 19, and Kaapo Kakko, 20, scored, and Filip Chytil, 21, added two assists.

New York also was 3-for-3 on the power play and scored shorthanded.

That's how life has gone lately, especially on offense. Over their past 11 games, the Rangers have wins of 9-0, 8-3 and 8-4.

"You know, you have those nights where it seems the puck goes in no matter what you're doing," said New York's Mika Zibanejad, who also scored Tuesday.

Poppycock, the Penguins said. Or something equivalent to that. They have a good idea of exactly why the Rangers were able to score eight goals - and the Boston Bruins seven against them in the previous game.

That would be a severe breakdown in the solid two-way game Pittsburgh seemed to have perfected before falling by a combined 15-9 during its two-game losing streak.

"It looks like we're kind of lost," Penguins forward Jared McCann said. "We're giving up (opponent scoring) chances we don't usually give up.

"We're hanging our goalies out to dry."

It's not just the defensemen. McCann alluded to Pittsburgh in general getting a bit greedy in trying to score.

"I think we're getting ahead of ourselves a little too much offensively," he said. "We're cheating a little bit."

Pittsburgh won five straight before stumbling the past two games.

Before their two straight losses in which they gave up 15 goals, the Penguins had given up 15 goals -- total -- over a stretch of nine games.

"These are hard ones because they sting (and) because we have a proud group," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We've had a lot of success this year. We've got to find a way to get back to some of the details that are necessary to give ourselves the best chance to win.

"It's hard to win games consistently when you give up the quality chances that we've given up the last two games."

Now sitting as close to first in the East as they are to the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, the Penguins seem ready to do that.

"You're not going to sit here and whine about it; let's learn from it and move forward," McCann said.

Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino, who left in the third period Tuesday after appearing to smack his chin on the ice, did not practice Wednesday. Sullivan termed it a maintenance day.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 7, 2021

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