Penguins-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Besides their usual potent offense, the Pittsburgh Penguins have received solid goaltending while putting together the Eastern Conference's best start.

That could spell trouble for the New York Rangers, who have regularly struggled to score goals.

Pittsburgh will try to knock off New York for the ninth time in 10 meetings Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Penguins (11-4-0), who have won four in a row after a three-game skid, have gotten reliable production from the usual suspects while ranking among the league leaders with 3.13 goals per game.

Sidney Crosby's 23 points are the most in the NHL, and Chris Kunitz has tied him for the team lead in goals with eight after scoring one in each of the last four games. The Penguins have scored at least three in all but two games and have four power-play goals on 15 chances in their last five.

Pittsburgh is also getting good play in net, with Marc-Andre Fleury posting a career-best 1.83 goals-against average while going 10-2-0. The depth has been tested by a blood clot sidelining backup Tomas Vokoun, but rookie Jeff Zatkoff bounced back from two rough outings to post his first shutout in a 3-0 win at Columbus on Saturday.

The team's blueliners have also made things easier, limiting teams to 25.8 shots per game. Zatkoff only faced 19 shots Saturday.

"Good effort individually and collectively as a group," defenseman Matt Niskanen told the club's official website. "We really had that focus. Playing well defensively for Jeff ... Guys played hard for him and he made big saves when he had to."

Fleury, who figures to get the start Wednesday, has won six of seven starts against New York with a 1.69 GAA and two shutouts during Pittsburgh's current 8-1-0 run in the series.

The Rangers (6-8-0) have scored more than two goals just twice in that span and have been weak on offense this season, averaging 1.86 goals per game. They couldn't fight back after surrendering two first-period goals in a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on Monday, ending a three-game winning streak.

"It was definitely not the way we wanted to start off this game," said netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who has allowed five goals in his last four starts. "... We could've easily had at least a point today."

The Rangers couldn't tie the game despite having 33 shots. They're near the top of the NHL with 30.9 shots per game, but score on just 6.0 percent.

New York saw a positive in the return of captain Ryan Callahan, who assisted on Michael Del Zotto's goal. Callahan had missed seven games due to a broken thumb.

Rick Nash is still out due to a concussion with no clear timetable for his return.

Crosby has 29 points in his last 17 matchups against New York. The Penguins are 11-2 when he registers at least one point and 0-2 when he doesn't.

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