New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins (-133, 5)
The Pittsburgh Penguins received a visit from injured captain Sidney Crosby prior to Thursday's optional practice. The Penguins hope that Crosby's words of wisdom will help them end their modest two-game slide as they host the New York Rangers on Friday in the back end of a home-and-home series. After winning an impressive 15 in a row, Pittsburgh stumbled in its first game without Crosby, dropping a 4-1 decision to Buffalo on Tuesday. The Penguins followed that up with a listless effort the following night, resulting in a 6-1 setback to New York.
Sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw, Crosby witnessed the new-look Rangers have their way with Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden. Ryane Clowe scored his first two goals of the season and fellow newcomer Derick Brassard matched Brian Boyle by netting a goal and setting up three others in the rout. Coach John Tortorella's club resides in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the rival Islanders.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, RDS, MSG Plus (New York), ROOT Sports (Pittsburgh)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (18-15-3): Clowe and Brassard weren't the only newcomers to step up on Wednesday as John Moore also tallied. The defenseman was acquired along with Brassard from Columbus for struggling forward Marian Gaborik. Captain Ryan Callahan admitted he was impressed by the new additions, who combined for eight points (four goals, four assists). "I like the balance throughout our lineup," Callahan said on Thursday. "The new guys who were brought in here help with that, make us a tough team to play."
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (28-10-0): Jussi Jokinen was acquired from Carolina on Wednesday but did not play versus New York. The newest Penguin is expected to assume Crosby's spot on a line with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Speaking of Dupuis, he scored Pittsburgh's lone goal on Wednesday and has three tallies and an assist versus New York in 2013. The Penguins lead Montreal by three points for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
* Under is 9-0 in Penguins’ last nine home games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Rangers’ last eight vs. a team with a winning record.
* Rangers are 1-6 in their last seven Friday games.
* Penguins are 6-1 in their last seven vs. Atlantic foes.
1. Despite being torched for all six goals on Wednesday, Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to be back in net on Friday.
2. Rookie C J.T. Miller was the lone member of the Rangers to miss practice on Thursday. The 20-year-old Miller is nursing a sore left wrist.
3. Pittsburgh signed D Harrison Ruopp to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.