PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers boast some of the top offensive threats in the NHL. It might be the goaltenders, however, in the spotlight now.
The Penguins may give Marc-Andre Fleury another chance to continue his revival while the Rangers hope for the return of Henrik Lundqvist on Monday night at Consol Energy Center.
Sidney Crosby has six goals and six assists in the last five games, giving him team highs of 12 and 15, respectively. The superstar center scored a goal and assisted on two of Evgeni Malkin’s three scores in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 win at Atlanta on Saturday.
While Crosby and Malkin are providing the offensive punch for Pittsburgh (9-8-1), Fleury is trying to re-establish himself as the club’s No. 1 goalie.
He’s coming off his best performance of the season, making 31 saves Saturday after stopping 15 shots in a 5-1 win against Tampa Bay. Those efforts followed a brutal first eight games of the season, during which he went 1-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA.
Those struggles provided an opportunity for backup Brent Johnson, who is 6-2-1 with a 2.11 GAA, but has given up 12 goals while dropping two of three.
Coach Dan Bylsma is encouraged by Fleury’s improvement.
“(The Thrashers) had a couple of great chances,” Bylsma said, “and coming back after (Friday’s) game, you could sense you were going to get a great game from Marc.”
Fleury is 11-0-3 with a 1.85 GAA and two shutouts in his last 14 home meetings with the Rangers (9-7-1). However, this is the first matchup at the Penguins’ new arena.
Pittsburgh is 8-0-1 in the last nine overall meetings with New York.
Marian Gaborik found the net for the first time this season Sunday, scoring a hat trick in the Rangers’ 8-2 victory over visiting Edmonton. The All-Star right wing’s scoring outburst came in just his second game since missing 12 with a shoulder injury.
“You want to go out there, work hard and be on top of your game,” said Gaborik, who led the Rangers with 42 goals and 44 assists in 2009-10. “It is definitely good to go out there, score and get one under your belt.”
He has four goals and five assists in seven games in Pittsburgh.
While Gaborik appears to have re-discovered his scoring touch, the Rangers may be more concerned with Lundqvist’s health after he has missed a second consecutive game with an illness Sunday.
If he’s unable to return, Martin Biron would get a third start in a row after splitting the last two while allowing four goals on 52 shots.
He owns a 4.24 GAA while dropping three of his last four starts against the Penguins, but those came with Philadelphia and the New York Islanders.
Lundqvist, who has two shutouts in his last five games, is 2-8-1 with a 3.00 GAA in his last 11 games at Pittsburgh.
Brandon Dubinsky, the Rangers’ leader with 10 goals and 15 points, has one assist in four games after scoring five goals in the previous three. The forward, though, has a point in each of the last four visits to Pittsburgh.
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- Gaborik, Rangers Rout Oilers 8-2 (newyork.cbslocal.com)