November 23, 2016 @ 7:00 PM - Madison Square Garden
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh
The Penguins will finish off their home and home with the Rangers tonight, traveling to Madison Square Garden for the second meeting between the teams this season. Pittsburgh will be hoping for a better ending than Monday night, where they opened up a 2-0 lead on a pair of Jake Guentzel goals but saw things slip away in the 5-2 defeat. They'll also be attempting to put recent stretch of bad play behind them, as they've gone 1-2-1 in their previous four games with the only victory against the lowly Islanders.
Like last season, the Rangers find themselves off to a blistering start on the back of a league leading PDO (105.1). It wasn't the start that many predicted for a New York team seemingly trending in the wrong direction, but they've gotten some unexpected contributions that have helped pace them to within a point of Montreal for best in the NHL along with a goal differential (+34) double that of second place.
Michael Grabner took the league by storm in his rookie season, using his blazing speed to create mismatches in transition en route to a 34 goal campaign, but his scoring numbers would gradually decline to the point where he managed just 9 goals and 9 assists last year in Toronto. Grabner signed a 2 year, $1.65 million AAV contract with the Rangers in the offseason, and it's paid off for New York so far. With his 12th goal of the season Monday against the Pens, Grabner has pulled into a 3-way tie for the league lead with Patrick Laine and Sidney Crosby.
Also contributing for New York against Pittsburgh on Monday was Rick Nash, who chipped in a goal and an assist. Off the worst statistical season of his career, the former first overall pick has rebounded in the early going of 2016-17, with his 8 goals already more than half of his total from last season. Now in his fifth season with the Rangers, Nash has at times flashed the talent that made him a valuable target on the trade market, but consistency has been an issue for a 32-year-old forward with a lot of miles on his body.
- Jake Guentzel put himself in lofty company in Pens history when he scored on the first shot of his first shift of his first game. At 1:02 in the first period, it was the fastest goal in Penguins history for a player making his NHL debut.
- With 3 more points, Phil Kessel would become the 5th active American-born player to reach 600 career points. Though more known for his goal scoring, Kessel is a capable playmaker and currently leads the Pens in assists (14) and points (18) on the year.