Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers Pick & Prediction MARCH 16th 2024

The New York Rangers, who hit the road to play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, will be looking in both directions of the standings as they head into the final weeks of the regular season.

The Rangers can look down in the order of teams as they try to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes and secure the Metropolitan Division title. They can also look above them with a chance to chase down the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers for the Eastern Conference’s top spot.

But first, New York needs to clamp down on its defensive play after a slip.

The Rangers’ three-game winning streak ended Thursday with a 6-3 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That was the most goals New York has allowed since a 6-3 loss to Vancouver on Jan. 8.

“I don’t think we gave up a boatload of chances,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said.

Still, New York blew an early two-goal lead in that game, then gave up four third-period goals. They had allowed just one goal, with two shutouts, during the preceding three-game winning streak.

“Any time you play good teams, they’re going to have their push,” Rangers forward Vincent Trocheck said, although his team has been able to hold off those pushes effectively a lot this season.

A Pittsburgh-area native, Trocheck has seven points, including four goals, over his past seven games.

New York forward Jack Roslovic, acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets a week ago at the NHL trade deadline, had a goal and an assist Thursday, his first two points in his fourth game with his new team.

“He’s been awesome. Great kid, great player,” Rangers linemate Chris Kreider said of Roslovic. “He’s trying to get better every game.”

Kreider assisted on Roslovic’s goal and has 13 points, including eight goals, in his past 13 games.

Pittsburgh is coming off a 6-3 win Thursday over the San Jose Sharks, a game that seemed to breathe some fresh air into playoff hopes that had appeared to be on life support for the Penguins.

After gaining three points over the past two games, combined with some losses by other teams in the East, Pittsburgh is just five points out of a playoff spot.

“I believe it’s not insurmountable,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I believe we have what it takes to continue to push and give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.”

Before going 1-0-1 against the Sharks and Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh had lost six of seven games in regulation.

In Thursday’s win at home, the Penguins withstood a poor start that brought some boos from their fans before breaking the game open. Their six-goal night — with six different goal-scorers — came after they mustered just two goals over their previous four games.

They were able to collect themselves, but the effort was against the last-place team in the league, San Jose.

The Rangers are far from that. Pittsburgh also has a game Sunday against a fellow team in a desperate struggle to grab an Eastern playoff spot, the Detroit Red Wings.

“It wasn’t the prettiest win (Thursday), but we’re going to take the two points,” Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson said. “We’ve got to keep scratching and clawing. It’s a big weekend coming up.”

–Field Level Media

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