Penguins-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a pair of major trades to bolster their attempt at a run for the Stanley Cup.

The New York Rangers are hoping their move can help them reach the playoffs.

While the recent acquisitions were unable to keep the Penguins' staggering winning streak intact, they'll try to continue another Wednesday night when they open a home-and-home set by visiting the Rangers, who may have Ryane Clowe available.

Pittsburgh (28-9-0) reeled off 15 victories in a row before falling 4-1 at home to Buffalo on Tuesday. It was also the Penguins' first game without Sidney Crosby, who was lost indefinitely to a broken jaw in Saturday's 2-0 win over the New York Islanders.

"It's a tough feeling; you just want to keep that (streak) going," said Jarome Iginla, who scored his first goal with the Penguins. "But at the same time it's very impressive to see what this group accomplished."

Pittsburgh, which is atop the Eastern Conference, seemed to improve its status as Stanley Cup favorites by acquiring Iginla from Calgary and Dallas' Brenden Morrow last week.

New York's postseason prospects aren't nearly that definite. The Rangers (17-15-3) are ninth in the conference, two points behind the Islanders and New Jersey for the last two playoff positions.

They're hoping Clowe can provide an edge.

With Wednesday's trade deadline looming, New York acquired the rugged left wing from San Jose on Tuesday in exchange for three draft picks. Clowe has 101 career goals and 170 assists in eight seasons with the Sharks, but has only 11 assists this year. However, his leadership qualities and playoff experience were key motivators behind the deal.

"He is a unique combination of size, skill and toughness," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said. "His strong leadership and character make him a tremendous addition to our organization on and off the ice."

Coach John Tortorella is more concerned with what happens on the ice.

"I don't give a damn about a deadline or anything else, except trying to win," he said. "It's pretty simple as far as the coaches and players that are here right now.

"We just want to win. We as a group just want to win. Nothing else is being talked about or discussed; we just want to win."

The Rangers did that Monday, beating Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg 4-2 after being shut out in their previous two games.

Making it two wins in a row could be difficult given their history with Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won the last seven matchups by a combined 28-8.

Iginla seems ready to add to Pittsburgh's dominance in the series with 12 goals and five assists over his last 12 games against New York.

The Penguins have won each of the last two meeting by 3-0 scores, including the most recent visit to Madison Square Garden on Jan. 31 when Evgeni Malkin had one goal and one assist. The center has six of each over the last six games with New York.

Marc-Andre Fleury also thrives against the Rangers, winning five straight starts behind a 1.00 goals-against average and two shutouts after making all 23 saves at home March 16. He may be back in net again after stopping all 16 shots he faced Tuesday after Tomas Vokoun was pulled early in the second period for surrendering four goals on 13 attempts.

Ryan Callahan has five goals and two assists in his past five home meetings with the Penguins, but missed the latest one due to a shoulder injury. The captain gave the Rangers a major lift Monday, scoring a short-handed goal while adding three assists.

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