Good evening Rangers fans!
I'm Chris Mascaro, and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live hockey action, as the Rangers (24-21-7, 55 points) play host to Sidney Crosby (pictured, right) and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (32-20-1, 65 points) at MSG.
The Penguins, the fourth-place team in the East, are coming off a 2-1 win in Philly yesterday in which Sergei Gonchar and Matt Cooke each scored power-play goals. Cooke's goal with 1:47 to play in the third period broke a 1-1 tie.
Pittsburgh has been a streaky team this season, with a five-game winning streak from Dec. 10-19, and a five-game losing streak from Dec. 27-Jan. 3. Since that streak ended, the Pens are 6-4.
They haven't played the Rangers since Nov. 30, when they earned a 5-2 win at the Garden behind three unanswered goals in the third period. Michael Rupp had his first career hat trick. Two days earlier, Pittsburgh earned an 8-3 win over the Rangers at home.
The Rangers are 0-3 against the Penguins this season with three more games to play against them. They are winless in their last seven games against Pittsburgh.
Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 11-2-2 with a 2.04 goals against average in his last 15 games against the Rangers.
As many of you know, scoring has been a problem for the Rangers lately, as they've scored just 15 goals in their last seven games. Fourteen of those goals came in back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay and Montreal. They've been shut out four times during the stretch, including a 6-0 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday and a 2-0 defeat in Philly on Thursday.
Said Sean Avery after the loss in Montreal: "No compete. It's not about X's and O's. You've gotta play 60 minutes. We're not working hard enough, not being competitive, not representing your teammates."
Coach John Tortorella is most likely going to leave the top lines in tact this evening. Marian Gaborik, the team's leading scorer with 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists), has just one goal in the last nine games. The Rangers are 10-14-4 when Gaborik doesn't score.
The Rangers, who are just 3-8-2 against division opponents and 12-11-4 at home, haven't been shut out in three straight games since Oct. 20-24, 1999.
On a positive note, Henrik Lundqvist is 12-2-1 with a 1.83 goals against average in 15 home starts against the Penguins.
Okay, that's all for now. But there's plenty more to talk about in the chat box above, where I'll be keeping you updated on all of tonight's action. Be sure to vote on the poll questions!
We're about a half-hour from action on Versus!
2:47: Chris Conner (1), Asst.: Crosby (33), Letang (15). Penguins lead 1-0.
13:04: Artem Anisimov (8), Asst: Higgins (8), Lisin (7). Tied 1-1. *The goal snapped the Rangers' scoring drought at 156:32.
9:15: Anisimov (9), Unassisted. Rangers lead 2-1.
9:46: Evgeni Malkin (18), Asst.: Gonchar (24), Letang (16). Tied 2-2. It was Malkin's 10th PP goal.
10:46: Conner (2, his second of the night), Asst.: Crosby (34), Pascal Dupuis (12). Penguins lead 3-2.
19:20 Dupuis (12, empty net), Unassisted. Penguins lead 4-2.
That's the end of tonight's game, as the Penguins defeat the Rangers, 4-2, to extend New York's losing streak to three.
Scores by period for the Penguins: 1, 0, 3
Scores by period for the Rangers: 0, 1, 1
Here are the final stats:
Shots: 30-28 Rangers
Hits: 40-38 Penguins
Faceoffs won: 32-26 Rangers
Fleury: 28 saves, two goals allowed
Lundqvist: 24 saves, three goals allowed
And finally, here are tonight's three stars:
1. Conner: In his first game since being recalled from the AHL, the 26-year old from Michigan netted two goals — his first two of the season and eighth and ninth of his career — including the game-winner on a rebound of a Crosby shot with 9:14 to play.
2. Crosby: He assisted on the first and third Penguin goals, and now has 299 assists in his young career.
3. Dupuis: Assisted on the game-winner and added an empty-netter to seal the win.
The Rangers, who have lost seven straight to the Penguins, skate again on Wednesday, as they play host to Carolina at 7 p.m.
Okay, that's all for tonight's game. Thanks to all for coming out!
As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action. Goodnight everybody!