This season, the New York Rangers (45-20-6) have won two of three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins (41-20-10). The Penguins won the first tilt in a thrilling 1-0 goalie duel between Tristan Jarry and Igor Shesterkin on Feb. 26. However, the Penguins dropped the next two, including an embarrassing 5-1 loss at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago.
UPDATE: Sidney Crosby, John Marino, and Radim Zohorna were late scratches with a non-COVID illness. See the new lines below.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m at MSG. Don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s one of the ESPN+/Hulu only games. At least you might get some time with the always enjoyable puckhead, Linda Cohn.
The Penguins have been hindered by the quick Rangers, which also sport outstanding goaltending.
“It’s a big game. We weren’t pleased with the two previous (games) against them. So, I think just with our team game, the way both (prior games) went–I think we’ll be ready to go (Thursday) and definitely look for a better effort and a better result,” Penguins forward Jeff Carter said.
Tristan Jarry and Igor Shesterkin will battle again.
However, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said Jason Zucker would not be available. For the first time since his scary injury last Thursday, Zucker was a full participant at Penguins practice on Wednesday. However, he’s not quite ready.
The Penguins trail New York by four points in the Metro, and New York has three more ROWs (regulation, overtime wins). So, a Penguins loss would put them five or six points behind with only nine games remaining. That’s not impossible, but…it’s a long shot.
If the Penguins win, they trail by only two points, and the battle for second place and home ice in Round One will rage on.
The Rangers speed has been problematic for the Penguins. However, after a heavy workload this season, Shesterkin may be wearing down. He posted only a .916 save percentage in 10 March appearances. He’s been dinged for three of more goals in three of his last five games. His last two starts were losses to the New York Islanders and a SO loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Shesterkin has stopped only 38 of his last 44 shots (.864).
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
Expected Rangers Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*INJURIES Brock McGinn, upper-body (12 consecutive, 15 total), Nathan Beaulieu, lower-body (8 consecutive, 8 total), Jason Zucker, lower-body (2 consecutive, 39 total). 2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 253
*The Rangers have a much better record in one-goal games (21-6-6) than the Penguins (13-7-10).
*The Rangers are 16-3-1 when tied after two periods. The Penguins are only 8-2-5.
*Rickard Rakell has nine points (3-6-9) in 14 career games against the New York Rangers.
*Bryan Rust established a new career-high with his 57th point (23-34-57) of the season, surpassing his previous high of 56 set in 55 games during the 2019-20 season. Since the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, Rust has 155 points (72G-83A) in 160 games.
*Jeff Carter became the 20th active player, and the seventh member of the 2003 draft class, to accumulate 800-plus NHL points along with Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, and Zach Parise.
*The Penguins have gone 22-9-5 in 36 games on the road this season. The team’s road wins (22), points (49), and penalty kill percentage (88.8%) all lead the NHL.
How to Watch:
TV: ESPN+, Hulu; Radio: 105.9 The X
Like many of you, I don’t think the NHL should allow Disney to hide a marquee matchup on streaming, especially when it’s a full minute, or more, behind the actual game.