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Game 40 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Rangers 4/8/2021: lines, how to watch

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One last Pens/Rangers game of the season

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (24-13-2, 50 points, 3rd place in the Eastern Division) @ New York Rangers (18-15-5, 41 points, 6th place Eastern Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG in the NYC area, also available on ESPN+

Opponent Track: The Rangers opened up the proverbial can of whoop ass on the Pens on Tuesday night, winning 8-4. Offensive explosions have been nothing new, in their last 11 games NYR has some high single game goal totals (including 9, 5, 8, 5, and then 8 last game). After tonight, the Rangers play two games this weekend @NYI and then the next four games are all against the Devils after that.

Pens path ahead: This is game four of six on a road trip for the Pens and tonight starts a back-to-back with tomorrow’s game upcoming against the Devils. Pittsburgh stays in New Jersey for Sunday evening game against the Devils to wrap up the trip. And then...a glorious three day break goes until next Thursday (4/14).

Season Series: Despite the blowout loss, it’s already been a successful season series for the Pens against the Rangers. Pittsburgh is 5-2-0 vs NYR this season (with NYR 2-3-2 from their perspective). The Pens beat the Rangers 4-3 in the shootout back on January 22nd with Kris Letang notching the deciding goal. On January 24th, Pittsburgh defeated NYR 3-2 when Jake Guentzel scored a goal late in the third period to give the Pens the W. Sidney Crosby scored the OT winner on January 30th to seal a 5-4 win. The Rangers struck back to win 3-1 on February 1st. Pittsburgh followed that up with a 5-1 win on March 7th and then a 4-2 Pens victory on March 9th in the Burgh. Tuesday for chapter seven was an emphatic 8-4 Rangers win.

Recent History: The last game not withstanding, Pens have performed really well the Rangers as of late, going 9-2-3 vs. the Blueshirts in the last 13 games. Expand it out further and Pittsburgh is 13-4-3 against NYR in the last 20 contests between the two teams.

SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Blueshirt Banter for the latest news to know about the Rangers.

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—The great recent run of Mika Zibanejad continued with a goal and an assist on Tuesday against the Pens. When he scores, in tends to come in bunches including not one but two three goal, six point games in the past month.

—Also, somewhat quietly, Ryan Strome has become one of the most productive players that no one really talks often about. The former fifth overall pick in 2011 by the Islanders struggled to find his place and bounced around a bit between NYI, Edmonton and the Rangers but has found a home in Manhattan. He scored a career high 59 points last season. Most likely only the shortened season will stop him from setting a new high this year.

Possible Lines

FORWARDS

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich

Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Colin Blackwell

Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko

Vitaly Kravtsov - Kevin Rooney - Phil Di Giuseppe

DEFENSEMEN

Ryan Lindgren / Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba

Libor Hajek / Brendan Smith

Starting goalie: Igor Shesterkin?

Scratches: Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier

IR: none

—The Rangers haven’t announced a starting goalie, but backup Alexandar Georgiev hasn’t played since March 19th. They’re riding Shesterkin right now, and coming off a win there’s no reason to stop now.

And now for the Pens..

Possible lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker - Jared McCann - Evan Rodrigues

Zach Aston-Reese - Frederick Gaudreau - Sam Lafferty

Radim Zohorna - Mark Jankowski - Colton Sceviour

Defense

Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang

Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci

Marcus Pettersson / John Marino

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Brandon Tanev

IR: Evgeni Malkin, Mark Friedman, Teddy Blueger, Kasperi Kapanen

Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi, Josh Currie, Anthony Angello

—Teddy Blueger practiced again yesterday, with contact, but according to coach Mike Sullivan has not yet been cleared to play a game as of Wednesday. We’ll see if that changes now, he’s certainly getting close.

—John Marino was absent from practice after leaving the third period with an injury, but it was deemed a “maintenance day” by Sullivan. That typically means his status for tonight should be available, but it’s worth watching to make sure.

—Jake Guentzel now has a goal in each of his last seven road games.

—The Pens also haven’t announced a starting goalie, but there’s probably a good case to get Tristan Jarry back in there and see if he can get back on track after his injury and a rough first period back on Tuesday.

Offense from the defense

The Pens depleted forward group has meant they’ve needed their defense to step up more offensively. From the Pens PR:

Pittsburgh got goals from defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Mike Matheson on Tuesday, as the team has received consistent contributions from their blueliners this season. Matheson’s goal was his fourth of the season, tying him for second among Penguins defenseman in goals. He also extended his point streak to four-straight games (2G-3A), tying his career-long streak set from Nov. 30, 2018 to Dec. 6, 2018 (1G-3A).

The Penguins now have 19 goals from defenseman on the season, and their next one will make them the seventh team this season to get 20+ goals from their blueliners. Fifteen percent (19/127) of the team’s goals have come from their defensemen this season.