Upcoming games: Hurricanes, March 13, 7:30 p.m.; Penguins, March 15, 7:00 p.m.; Avalanche, March 17, 7:00 p.m.
Carolina Hurricanes (67 points, 13th place, 28-26-15)
The Rangers are 3-0 against the Hurricanes this season. Brandon Prust netted the game winner late in the third period in a 3-2 victory on March 1. They have outscored the struggling Canes by a margin of 13 to 6. Carolina is 4-2-4 over its last ten games. They were shut out by the Florida Panther 2-0 on Sunday despite Cam Ward’s impressive 31 save performance. Canes’ defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, a former Rangers’ first round draft pick, was recalled from their AHL affiliate and will play on Tuesday. Captain Eric Staal leads the team with 59 points while Jeff Skinner leads with 19 goals, including five game winners.
Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 4th place, 42-21-5)
The Rangers are 2-2 against the Penguins this season. They lost their last two matches, including a 2-0 shutout on February 21. The Penguins have crept up the ranks and are eyeing the prized Atlantic Division top spot. Pittsburgh has been hot with nine straight wins. Though Evgeni Malkin has been explosive on offense leading the team with 84 points, he hasn’t scored a goal since March 3. Winger James Neal continues to impress; he registered a goal and two assists in the Pens’ 5-2 victory over the Bruins on Sunday. Captain Sidney Crosby is eyeing a return to the lineup and could play as early as Thursday. The Penguins have the second best penalty kill unit in the league and the seventh best power play. Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury hasn’t allowed more than two goals in his last four games.
Colorado Avalanche (76 points, 10th place, 36-30-4)
This is the first and only meeting between the Rangers and Avalanche this season. Colorado is clawing for the final playoff spot in the West and is tied for eighth with the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings with 76 points. They are 7-3 over the last ten games. Their 21-year-old center Ryan O’Reilly is having a career season leading the team with 51 points and netting a career high 17 goals. Winger Jamie McGinn, a trade deadline acquisition from the San Jose Sharks, has seven points in his last five games. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, 7-0 in shootouts, backstopped the Avs to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. The 2011 second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog leads the Avs in goals with 18. He is in the Calder Trophy discussion as he ranks second among first-year players in points (43) and goals (18).