Upcoming games: @ Penguins, February 21, 7:00 p.m.; @ Islanders, February 24, 7:00 p.m.; Sabres, February 25, 7:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins (71 points, 6th place, 33-21-5)
The Rangers are 2-1 against the Pens this season. The last time they met on January 19, the Penguins won 4-1 with Evgeni Malkin notching two goals. Malkin leads the team with 32 goals and 39 assists. After a 6-4 win in Philadelphia on Saturday, the Penguins lost 6-2 to the Sabres on Sunday. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury relieved backup Brent Johnson early in the second period after he allowed three goals on 12 shots. Fleury is 11-2-1 over his last 14 games, a stretch that included nine straight wins and has a GAA of 2.41. The Pens have the third best penalty kill unit in the league. Center Jordan Staal was recently fined $2,500 for boarding Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. Winger James Neal signed a six year contract extension worth $30 million announced this weekend. Captain Sidney Crosby skated with the team on Friday but his return still doesn’t appear imminent as he isn’t concussion symptom free.
New York Islanders (58 points, 12th place, 25-25-8)
The Rangers are 3-1 versus the Isles this season. Henrik Lundqvist shutout the rivals 3-0 while rookie Carl Hagelin netted two goals on December 26. The Islanders were shutout 6-0 on President’s Day by the Ottawa Senators. They continue to be inconsistent in victories and in net. In February they have alternated between wins and losses with a 5-4-1 over the last ten games. John Tavares continues to light the lamp and is leading the team with 58 points. Former Ranger PA Parenteau is not far behind with 53 points while Matt Moulson has 25 goals. They are just six points out of the playoff picture with the Maple Leafs in eighth place with 64 points. They added yet another name to the goaltender mix. The 21-year-old Kevin Poulin made 33 saves in the victory over the Hurricanes on Saturday. General manager Garth Snow hopes to resign the veteran netminder Evgeni Nabokov. He’s 14-14 this season with two shutouts.
Buffalo Sabres (57 points, 14th place, 25-27-7)
The Rangers are 2-0 against the Sabres this season. Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist stole the show back on February 1 as the Rangers ultimately won in a shootout after Ryan Callahan scored the winning goal. The Sabres snapped a four game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Penguins on Sunday. Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Christian Ehrhoff each had three points in the game. Roy has five points in his last three games. Miller has allowed 14 goals in his last five games. They are 5-3-2 over the last ten games.