The New York Rangers, meanwhile, hope it’s more than just happenstance that they played so well with their newest additions.
Pittsburgh looks to get back on track while preventing playoff-hopeful New York from winning a third straight game as the teams complete a home-and-home set Friday night at Consol Energy Center.
Crosby suffered a broken jaw after being hit with a puck during Saturday’s 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders, and his surgery will keep the NHL’s scoring leader out indefinitely.
The Penguins (28-10-0) had their win streak snapped with a 4-1 home loss to Buffalo on Tuesday before being routed 6-1 at Madison Square Garden the following night.
Pascal Dupuis who scored his 18th goal Wednesday, said Pittsburgh can’t dwell on the loss of Crosby.
“It’s going to have to be the guys in this locker room. Syd isn’t coming back on Friday,” Dupuis said. “It has nothing to do with skill level. It has to do with battle level, and wanting it more. We can’t seem to find it the last couple of days.”
While Pittsburgh remains atop the Eastern Conference, New York (18-15-3) is battling the Islanders and New Jersey for one of the final playoff spots.
The Rangers helped their cause Wednesday, playing with plenty of intensity just hours after dealing Marian Gaborik prior to the trade deadline. Center Derick Brassard and defenseman John Moore were acquired from Columbus in the Gaborik deal - along with injured winger Derek Dorsett - and they arrived roughly 15 minutes before pregame warmups.
Brassard proceeded to score a goal and add three assists while Moore scored his first goal of the season.
“I didn’t have time to be nervous. I was stressed out with everything,” Brassard said. “It’s a great experience I am going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Ryane Clowe acquired from San Jose on Tuesday, also wasted little time making his presence felt in his Rangers debut. He netted his first goal of the season in the first period before scoring on the power play in the second.
“The new guys gave us a spark - more than a spark,” said Brian Boyle who had a goal and three assists. “It was just cool to welcome them.”
The Rangers ended a seven-game losing streak to the Penguins and now hope to win in Pittsburgh, where they’ve been shut out twice while dropping the last three matchups.
“It just seems we’ve been on our heels playing Pittsburgh, and we need to be more on our toes,” coach John Tortorella said. “We just need to temper it. We’re still fighting for our lives.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma saw the desperation in the Rangers and believes his team needs to come out with similar intensity Friday to end its skid.
“I thought the compete level from the Rangers and their game was very high, and we certainly didn’t match it,” Bylsma said. “We got beat by a team that competed harder and was more desperate.”
Marc-Andre Fleury faced 39 shots Wednesday in an uncharacteristic performance after posting a 0.64 goals-against average while winning his previous five starts, including a 23-save, 3-0 win over New York on March 16.
It’s unclear if Fleury will be in net again Friday, though the Rangers likely will go with Henrik Lundqvist who made 26 saves Wednesday.
Lundqvist is 5-2-1 with a 1.72 GAA over his last eight starts.