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Game Thread: Rangers at Penguins

Pride or draft position? Only one motivating factor will win out in the Rangers’ season finale tonight

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One last game. One final meeting. Tonight, we bid adieu to the 2018-19 New York Rangers season as the team takes on the Pittsburgh Penguins — themselves playoff-bound — in a 7 PM EST puck drop.

Though the Rangers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention a few weeks ago, this season has largely felt like one big exercise in securing the best possible draft position. It’s here that the outcome of this evening’s match is most important, despite the fact the Blueshirts will undoubtedly be playing for a win.

”For us to go in and try to get two points and kind of mess them up a little bit?” Brady Skjei said ahead of tonight’s game, “That’d be pretty nice.”

A regulation loss, hard though it may be to root for, would secure the Rangers the 5th-worst record in the NHL this season, and along with it a 26.1% shot at a top-three pick, and an 8.5% at the first overall selection — either of which could dramatically improve their roster and the pace of this rebuild.

The Penguins won’t be without motivation to win, either. Though they’ve already secured a playoff berth, they can still finish anywhere between second in the Metropolitan division (with home-ice advantage in the opening round) to the first Wild Card spot, which would pit them against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals.

Pittsburgh is 5-3-2 in it’s last ten games and are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. They also saw team veterans Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang return to their lineup — both of whom will play against the Rangers.

The Rangers will have a few changes to their lineup, and Alexandar Georgiev will remain between the pipes.

So, too, will Matt Murray, in net — his 11th-straight start. Murray has a 6-0 regular season record against the Blueshirts.

”We have one more game left to end on a good note and show the coaches and management that we’re still here and working hard,” Skjei said.

Please use this as your open thread for tonight’s game.