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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 3rd (All times Eastern)

New York Rangers (20-19-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (29-12-1), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers have seemed to turn the corner lately with wins in four of their last five games. Another victory in Friday's road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins would go a long way towards confirming that notion.

The Rangers went 4-1-0 over their last five games in the month of December after suffering through a poor 2-5-2 start to the month. New York also is 2-1-0 so far on a five-game road trip, but the real test comes in tonight's battle against the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.

With 59 points, Pittsburgh is tops in the Metropolitan Division and is 17 points in front of the division-rival Rangers. The Penguins and Rangers have split two meetings in New York City this season, but Pittsburgh has taken nine of 11 overall in the series and four straight matchups on its home ice.

The Pens also are one of the best home teams in the NHL this season, going 17-3-0 so far in the Steel City. New York, meanwhile, has a solid 12-9-0 road record.

The Rangers last played on Tuesday in Florida and won that New Year's Eve game over the Panthers in a shootout. Dan Girardi scored the tying goal late in regulation, and Brad Richards won it with the lone goal in the shootout, as New York rallied past Florida, 2-1, at BB&T Center.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 stops in regulation and three more in the game's final segment for New York. It was the second straight win for Lundqvist, who had struggled to a 1-4-2 record during a seven-start stretch from Dec. 7-20.

"He was big for us tonight," said Girardi of Lundqvist. "He made the big saves when he had to. When we needed him he was there, and that's why we've got him back there. He's a pretty big clutch player for us."

Lundqvist expects to get the call in net again on Friday. He is 24-18-7 with a 2.40 goals against average in 49 career games -- all starts -- against the Pens.

In addition to fighting their less-than-stellar recent history against the Pens, the Rangers may have to contend with a healthier Pittsburgh team tonight. Both star forward Evgeni Malkin and top defenseman Kris Letang could make their returns for the Penguins in Friday's divisional clash. Malkin has missed the last eight games with a lower-body injury, while Letang has sat out nine in a row due to an elbow injury that required minor surgery.

Both players practiced on Thursday and are considered questionable for Friday's tilt.

Malkin has 41 points (9 goals, 32 assists) in 32 games this season, while Letang has notched six goals and five assists in just 24 games on the blue line.

Considering their top-billing status in the East and Metro Division, the injuries to Malkin and Letang hasn't hurt the stacked Penguins all that much in the standings. However, one or both of the players could have made a difference in Tuesday's 2-1 road loss against the New Jersey Devils.

Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder both scored and picked up an assist on the other's goal to lead the Devils to the close regulation win over Pittsburgh. The win improved New Jersey's home record against the Penguins since the start of the 2008-09 season to 13-3-0.

Marc-Andre Fleury turned away 28 shots for Pittsburgh, which suffered just its third loss in its last 17 games. Matt Niskanen scored the lone goal in the setback.

"They got an early goal, we had a turnover that they put in our net and got the lead," noted Pens head coach Dan Bylsma. "For the most part that was how the game went all night long. We couldn't get more than a goal. You're not going to win many against this team when you do that."

Friday's tilt is the first of two straight on home ice for the Pens, who will host Winnipeg in their next games on Sunday.

01/03 10:37:47 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
 
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
DET 106
DAL 117
Final
BOS 109
ORL 92
Final
MIA 87
UTA 105
Final
TOR 105
BRK 89
Final
SAN 116
MEM 117
Final
POR 104
MIL 97
 
4th
DEN 84
HOU 82
 
4th
LAC 86
IND 89
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
HOU
NOP
 
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
 
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
Final
UNCW 73
LIB 70
 
Final
LOYC 83
ABCHRIST 44
 
Final
MURST 94
ALCOR 56
 
Final
HOU 56
ARKPB 61
 
Final
NW 67
CMICH 80
Final
WKENT 75
CHIST 60
 
Final
ODU 58
UGST 54
Final
SMU 67
ILLCH 46
Final
LALAF 115
MLGN 76
 
Final
TULSA 74
MIZST 70
Final
UWGB 66
MORE 50
 
Final
NEOM 92
NCOL 82
 
Final
TTU 101
SCST 39
 
Final
DEN 83
TAMCC 73
 
Final
STEPH 66
TXST 60
 
Final
STLU 75
TXPA 69
 
Final
MEM 83
USCU 73
 
Final
ILLST 64
TENNM 54
 
Final
MSU 66
EMICH 46
Final
GRCN 80
INCWORD 82
 
Final
STAN 67
LMU 58
Final
BAY 66
NMST 55
 
Final
CIN 71
SDST 62
Final
AUB 80
WINT 62
 
Final
NMU 76
CARK 55
 
Final
PEPP 53
HOW 45
 
Final
CPSL 60
NE 58
 
2nd
UNLV 60
PORT 62
 
2nd
OREG 68
CSNO 46
 
2nd
WASH 76
GRAM 30
 
12:30pm Today
RICE
STTHOMASTX
 
7:00pm Tonight
UVA
CLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIU
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
STET
GSOUT
 
7:00pm Tonight
QUIN
LEH
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
RICH
SALA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
USB
 
7:00pm Tonight
DEL
TEMPL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WCU
WRST
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
YALE
 
7:30pm Tonight
SDKST
IDST
 
7:30pm Tonight
RIDE
MRGST
 
7:30pm Tonight
LATU
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHAR
APP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
CCAR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
 
8:00pm Tonight
BRAD
EUREK
 
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
OAKC
 
8:00pm Tonight
JST
SMISS
 
8:30pm Tonight
SD
MNTST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UAB
LSU
 
9:05pm Tonight
EVAN
OHIO
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
 
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
 
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
Final
MIN 2
BOS 3
3rd
VAN 0
DAL 2
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
ANA
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
 
8:25pm Tonight
JAC
TEN