By David Kolb
NEW YORK RANGERS (23-10-1) @ PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (20-7-5)
Game Coverage Begins at 6:30 PM on MSG2
RACE FOR THE TOP
The Blueshirts are riding a three-game winning streak and are in first place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points. However, the Penguins are right behind them with 45, despite losing two straight games in overtime, including 2-1 tilt Saturday in Toronto.
After playing in three games since missing four with a groin injury, Rick Nash will once again be on the shelf and miss tonight’s tilt in Pittsburgh. Nash has been dominant this season and is tied for the team lead in goals with 13.
KREIDER WHEN IT MATTERS
In the Blueshirts’ last contest, Chris Kreider got the Rangers on the board in the third period to start the team’s rally and eventual comeback win vs. New Jersey. This season, Kreider has been a difference-maker, tallying all of his nine goals and 17 of his 21 points in games where the Rangers have either led by a goal, trailed by one goal, or were tied.
Sunday, Derek Stepan scored with only 1:13 remaining in the third period to help send the game to overtime against the Devils. No. 21 has now registered eight points (two goals, six assists) in the last 10 games, giving him six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 34 games this season. The Rangers have now registered an amazing 34-1-6 record in the last 41 games in which Stepan has tallied a goal.
MALKIN IS HOT
Evgeni Malkin scored a power-play goal Saturday in the Pens’ 2-1 OT loss to the Maple Leafs. He now has five goals and eight assists in his last 10 games, tying him with captain Sidney Crosby for the most points on the team with 34.
CAPTAIN SETTING EM’ UP
Captain Ryan McDonagh picked up an assist on the game-tying goal Sunday and now leads the Rangers in assists this season with 17. Despite only lighting the lamp once this season, McDonagh leads all Rangers defensemen in points with 18, and in time-on-ice with a whopping 24:07.