Game #34: New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins Open Thread

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to clash for the first time since their opening round playoff series last spring. A series that saw the Penguins jump out to a 3-1 lead ended in a dramatic Game 7 victory for the Rangers as Artemiy Panarin scored the series winning goal in overtime to send Madison Square Garden into a frenzy. However, the playoff series is in the past, and Gerard Gallant’s squad need only focus on the two points at stake tonight in a heated divisional battle.

The Penguins have battled through some early season adversity this far. Star defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke for the second time in his NHL career earlier in the season, but has since returned to the ice and been contributing. Evgeni Malkin appeared set to leave Pittsburgh as a free agent over the summer, but he also returned to the team with a new contract. The Penguins trail the Blueshirts by one point in the standings entering tonight, but are actual ahead of New York by virtue of having played two less games to earn one less point.

Player to Watch: Mika Zibanejad

Had the Rangers fell in their opening round playoff series to Pittsburgh last season, Zibanejad’s performance likely would’ve been looked at as a reason why. Zibanejad was held without a goal through the first five games before scoring twice in Game 6 and once in Game 7 to help his team complete their comeback. Keep an eye on Zibanejad as he looks to keep his offensive success against Pittsburgh going tonight.

Enjoy the game!