(AP) — Only Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers have been able to slow down Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins recently. That could change at Madison Square Garden.
Crosby and the Penguins will try to extend their winning streak to seven by re-establishing their dominance of Lundqvist and the Rangers on Monday night.
Pittsburgh (15-8-2) has won six in a row since a 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers (14-10-1) on Nov. 15, when Lundqvist made 37 saves while Crosby was limited to one assist. That’s the lone defeat for the Penguins in their last nine games (8-0-1). They haven’t lost in regulation since falling 7-4 versus Boston on Nov. 11.
The Penguins last won seven in a row Oct. 8-23, 2009.
The current hot streak mostly coincides with Crosby’s 12-game point streak. The superstar center has 12 goals and 13 assists during his run, including a hat trick Saturday in a 4-1 win over Calgary.
“He’s to the point where’s he’s still doing things (we haven’t seen),” defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “I’ve seen him for three years and I’m still like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ It’s pretty unbelievable.”
Crosby has 20 goals and 30 assists in 25 games against New York, with 15 of those goals against Lundqvist – his highest total versus any goaltender.
The Penguins have won eight of their last 10 meetings (8-0-2) with the Rangers.
Lundqvist, who should be in net Monday, has posted a 3.96 goals-against average while losing the last three home matchups with the Penguins. He’s won just two of his last nine decisions versus Pittsburgh.
Lundqvist, though, is now riding a hot streak. He made 29 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping all three shootout attempts in a 2-1 win at Nashville on Saturday. The previous night, he stopped 40 shots to earn his third shutout of the season, a 3-0 victory at Florida.
“As a goalie, you play a big part in the shootout,” Lundqvist said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to help this team. I did my part.”
While Crosby has done much of the scoring for the Penguins, an array of contributions has helped New York win four of five. The Rangers have 14 goals from 11 players during that stretch. Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan have scored two apiece.
“I feel good about our team,” coach John Tortorella said. “We may not win them all. We may struggle at times, but I like what’s going on with the club and have for quite a while.”
Callahan, who has goals in consecutive games, came up big against Pittsburgh earlier this month, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:22 left in the extra session. The right wing, however, hasn’t had a point in his last seven home meetings with the Penguins.
Fleury has posted a 1.58 GAA while earning five straight wins overall, but teammate Brent Johnson, who made 30 saves in Saturday’s win over the Flames, is 3-0-0 with a 1.77 GAA lifetime against the Rangers.
Updated November 28, 2010
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