Penguins-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 20, 2013
The Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off the abbreviated season with a gritty win in front of an unfriendly crowd. Coach Dan Bylsma's team figures to be in for more of the same with a visit to Madison Square Garden in store. Hoping to build on its strong opening performance, Pittsburgh tries for a fifth consecutive victory over the Atlantic Division-rival New York Rangers on Sunday night. After falling to Philadelphia in the first round of last season's playoffs, the Penguins (1-0-0) got a bit of revenge Saturday with a 3-1 victory over the Flyers. Left wingers Tyler Kennedy and James Neal tallied early first-period goals for Pittsburgh, which held Philadelphia scoreless on five power-play opportunities. Defenseman Paul Martin notched his second assist on Chris Kunitz's empty-netter in the final seconds. "Well, it's been a long time since we played, but I think the energy is there," said captain Sidney Crosby, who went without a point. "There are a lot of guys in here who are comfortable with each other and I think that will help in the early going. "This is a tough place to play, for sure. We saw exactly what we expected out there, tough crowd, tough team, but it's a good experience for us, and we'll take it." Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to earn career win No. 227, surpassing Tom Barrasso for the most in team history, but Pittsburgh will get a look at its new backup on Sunday. Hoping to acquire a solid second goaltender after Fleury's struggles against the Flyers in the playoffs, the Penguins traded for Tomas Vokoun, and the two-time All-Star will make his debut Sunday. The Penguins hope Vokoun can help them continue their success against the Rangers (0-1-0), whom they had their way with toward the end of last season. Pittsburgh suffered back-to-back losses to New York before outscoring coach John Tortorella's team 16-5 during a four-game winning streak. Vokoun is 6-2-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average in his last nine starts against the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist's season, meanwhile, got off to a rough start Saturday in a 3-1 loss at Boston. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner allowed all three goals as the Rangers, who went 0 for 5 on the man advantage, were outshot 34-21. "This is a tough matchup," center Brad Richards said after scoring the team's only goal. "It's a good matchup for the first night, to see where you are at." New York had a chance to tie the score with a 5-on-3 power play in the third period, but only managed two shots during the 90-second stretch. "If we score a goal there ...,'' captain Ryan Callahan said. "It definitely hurts momentum. That's how it works in this league. You can't be discouraged by that." Rick Nash, acquired from Columbus in a blockbuster five-player deal in the offseason, tallied an assist in his Rangers debut. He has five goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Penguins. Lundqvist went 12-1-1 with a 1.67 GAA over his first 14 home matchups against Pittsburgh, but he's gone 2-4-2 with a 3.34 GAA in his last eight. The Penguins are 7-2-0 at MSG over the previous three seasons. While Crosby didn't get on the board Saturday, he's recorded 10 goals and 17 assists during a 14-game point streak in this series.
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