Rangers and Penguins square off for first time since playoffs

kaapo kakko alexis lafreniere
May 7, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) celebrates his goal with left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins will square off for the first time this season on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. They last met in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season where the Blueshirts rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the next round.

It all began with a collision between Jacob Trouba on Sidney Crosby in Game 5 and ended with an Artemi Panarin OT winner in Game 7 to send the Rangers on a run that eventually ended in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now these two teams are separated by just a point in the standings. A win by the Rangers tonight will extend their season-high winning streak to 8 games and increase their hold on third place in the Metro. A loss would have the Penguins jump them in the standings and put the Blueshirts in a wild card spot.

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (18-10-5) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-4)
Date/Time: December 20, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: PPG Paints Arena
Radio: ESPN 98.7

Rangers look to down Penguins

mika zibanejad rangers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of expectation that there’ll be some bad blood between the two teams thanks to some pretty big hits in that series.

Defenseman Ryan Lindgren crushed Rickard Rakell in Game 1 and knocked him out of the playoffs. Trouba’s incidental collision knocked Crosby out for the remainder of Game 5 and all of Game 6. He did return for the Penguins elimination in Game 7.

In reality, the Penguins are looking for two points more than they are trying to get payback on either Lindgren or Trouba. The fans in Pittsburgh on the other hand will probably put a lot of energy into booing Trouba.

Penguins’ fans may want to proceed with caution as Trouba usually thrives playing off emotion. Heading into Game 6 in Pittsburgh last season, Trouba was asked about being Public Enemy No. 1 after hitting Crosby. “It’s okay, it won’t be the first time,” he laughed.

The Rangers lineup could have a new look tonight if Filip Chytil is unable to play. On Sunday in Chicago, he took a late high hit from Sam Lafferty that sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the game. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

It’s a shame because Chytil was hot with four goals and six points in his last six games.

Expected to get the nod in goal is Igor Shesterkin, who has yet to lose a game on the road in regulation. He’s 9-0-1 with a GAA of 1.98 and a .933 save percentage this season. For his career against the Penguins, the 26 year-old is 5-3-1 (GAA 2.11, SV% .924).

New York is currently riding a 7 game winning streak and looked like a machine against the Blackhawks in a 7-1 win. This will be the final contest of their 3-game road trip and also their third game in four nights.

“We’re finding ways to win hockey games,” Gerard Gallant said. “We’re just playing as a group, and it’s four lines and six d-men and the goaltender that’s playing good, solid hockey. You get on a little roll and things happen good. We weren’t getting much puck luck the first part of the season, now we’re getting a lot more of it.”

Penguins playing good hockey

The Penguins are coming off a loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, but prior to that they rattled of 7 seven straight wins themselves.

Sidney Crosby is having a stellar season at the age of 35 as he leads the team in scoring with 40 points in 31 games.

Kris Letang, who suffered a stroke earlier this year is also back on the ice and helping lead the Penguins high-powered attack from the blue-line.

In goal, Tristan Jarry is expected to get the nod in between the pipes. This season, he’s 14-3-3 with a 2.63 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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