Coming off his second hat trick of the season, Crosby tries to help the Penguins avoid a ninth straight loss at MSG when they complete a home-and-home series with the Rangers on Monday night.
After having its three-game winning streak snapped Friday, Pittsburgh (18-9-0) bounced back in impressive fashion with an 8-3 victory over the Rangers (13-12-1) on Saturday.
Crosby led the way with three goals and two assists as the first-place Penguins posted their highest goal total of the season.
“We played a great game and got some breaks but we worked hard for them,” said Crosby, who recorded his first hat trick since scoring three times in a 6-1 win over Montreal on Oct. 28. “Anytime (your team) puts that many goals up, it’s a fun game.”
New York isn’t having as much fun, losing four of six and going 6-11-1 since a 7-1-0 start.
The Rangers, who lost 5-1 to Tampa Bay on Friday, trailed Pittsburgh 4-3 early in the third period before the Penguins scored four times in an 8:40 span.
“We played decent hockey (Saturday),” New York’s Vinny Prospal said. “Obviously, the score didn’t indicate that in our favor, but we were in the hockey game. We were close. It was totally different than in Tampa. … The effort was there.”
The Penguins, winners of six of eight, took the last five matchups with the Rangers. Crosby recorded six goals and five assists in the last four.
Those wins all came at Mellon Arena, though, and the Penguins have not had any success of late when the series shifts to New York. The Penguins have lost eight in a row at Madison Square Garden since a 4-3 shootout victory March 1, 2007.
Their biggest stars continuously came up short in those matchups. Crosby had one goal and two assists during the eight-game span, while Evgeni Malkin(notes) - the league leader with 113 points last season - has been limited to three assists in 10 games at MSG.
Malkin has amassed 326 points in his other 252 regular-season games.
Henrik Lundqvist(notes) has been a big reason why Crosby, Malkin and the rest of the Penguins have had trouble on the Rangers’ home ice. He is 12-1-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average and two shutouts in 14 home starts against the Penguins.
Lundqvist didn’t play Saturday but is expected to be back in net for the rematch.
Fleury made 22 saves Saturday to win his fourth straight start, giving him an 11-0-2 mark in his last 13 home games against the Rangers. However, he has a 3-7-3 record and 3.33 GAA in 13 starts at MSG.