Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (34-23-10, 78 points, 4th place Metropolitan Division) @ New York Rangers (38-19-10, 86 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet PIT for the home team, MSG for the New York area, SNE, SNO, SNP and TVAs for the Canadians, ESPN+
Opponent Track: After falling to Kris Letang’s OT goal on Sunday, the Rangers competed on Tuesday like the Pens did, but in a 5-3 winning effort against Washington. Overall in the month of March, NYR is carrying a 4-2-1 record, which is identical to what the Pens have put up so far as well.
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins stick around for a rematch with the Rangers back at MSG on Saturday night. After that, the Pens are back to home for one quick game against Ottawa on Monday before a quick trip west next week to play in Colorado on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday for the final regular season games outside of the Eastern time zone.
Season Series: So far, so good with Pittsburgh up 2-0-0 (it’s 0-1-1 for NYR) with both games ending in matching 3-2 scores, one back in December and the aforementioned contest this past Sunday. Tonight and Saturday mark the final two scheduled games of the season.
Getting to know the Rangers
SBN partner blog: Blueshirt Banter
Tuesday’s Game Lines
Artemi Panarin - Mika Zibanejad - Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Kreider - Vincent Trocheck - Patrick Kane
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Jimmy Vesey - Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Motte
K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba
Nikko Mikkola /Adam Fox
Ben Harpur / Braden Schneider
Goalies: Igor Shesterkin (Jaroslav Halak)
Scratches: Ryan Lindgren (day-to-day, upper body)
—Lindgren’s return to the lineup is getting more imminent and perhaps could be as soon as tonight. He practiced in full last Friday, but has had a bit longer to get back in the games, having missed the last eight in a row.
—Kane was quiet and held scoreless against the Pens on Sunday but added two points (1G+1A) on Tuesday against Washington as he continues to acclimate and they find the right spot for him. Overall all five of Kane’s NYR points have come in three games sandwiched around that Penguin game.
—Halak did his thing (+0.67 goals saved above expected) and held the Rangers in the game against the Pens on Sunday, but surely at this point Pittsburgh won’t avoid seeing Shesterkin. Overall in his career, Shesterkin has only won five out of 10 regular season starts against the Pens, but his .920 save% and 2.21 GAA are very fine personal numbers. For his last five starts against Pittsburgh, Shesterkin has a .944 save%. The Pens will likely have to earn whatever they can get in terms of scoring goals tonight.
—Chytil is on a 16 game goal-less drought and has no points at all in his last six. After scoring 19G in the first 43 games, it was looking like it could be a major breakout season for the youngster, but he’s been sitting at under the 20-goal plateau since his last tally on February 6th. (With that said, get your bets in on Chytil scoring tonight if you think that’s a big jinx and thank me for the money later..)
—Shesterkin picked up an assist on Tuesday against Washington on Mika Zibanejad’s second goal of the night, marking Shesterkin’s first assist of the season. With his puck-handling ability and frequency of moving the puck that is a bit surprising, but also something the Pens will have to be mindful of when making line changes, particularly when killing a penalty.
And now for the Pens...
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander
Drew O’Connor - Mikael Granlund - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald
Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / Jeff Petry?
P.O. Joseph / Jan Rutta?
Goalies: Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Nick Bonino (out week-to-week, lacerated kidney)
IR: Ryan Poehling, Dmitry Kulikov (out week-to-week, lower-body injury)
—Kulikov’s move to LTIR looks ominous in the aftermath on Tuesday, in a game that Rutta and Petry both were knocked out of. The Pens didn’t practice before flying to NY and at press time there has been no update on the status of either. Rumors abound that the Kulikov move to clear cap space could be filled by a recall of Mark Friedman from the AHL. If both Petry+Rutta are out, Friedman would be in the lineup. If one of the banged up defensemen can play, Friedman would likely be on hand as the extra.
—If you were curious about why not Ty Smith coming up: in addition to the right-handed Friedman making natural sense for the call due to the right-handed defenders and not Smith, Smith also hasn’t played since suffering facial fractures in an AHL game on February 18th.
—The coaching decision on Jarry or DeSmith will be fascinating. Jarry did play well in the Pens’ win on Sunday against the Rangers, but he hasn’t looked good in a while against anyone besides NY. If healthy, it makes sense to go back to him. But if the team opts for the recently more steady DeSmith? That would raise a lot of eyebrows.