After losing Game 1 in overtime, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gradually taken control of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Rangers, winning three in a row.
Tonight at Consol Energy Center, the Pens have a chance to put said series away with one more victory. Pittsburgh went 2-0 in potential clinching games last spring, and that winning streak reached three in Round 1 this year, when the Pens vanquished Columbus in the sixth game of their spirited series.
In fact, last year’s second-round battle with Ottawa bore a resemblance to this series against the Rangers, in that the Penguins have proven themselves to be the better team through four games, with their only loss coming in OT. Pittsburgh crushed the Senators in Game 5 last May, boosted by a James Neal hat trick.
Defenseman Brooks Oprik was the only player not to take part in Friday’s morning skate, indicating that he will return to the press box after giving it a go in Game 4. Orpik appeared to sustain a new lower-body injury in the first period of Wednesday’s 4-2 Penguins victory.
Other than that, Pittsburgh’s lineup figures to remain the same as it was in Game 3, with Robert Bortuzzo suiting up again and Brian Gibbons manning a spot on the fourth line. Tanner Glass, Chris Conner and Taylor Pyatt should remain healthy scratches.
For New York, Martin St. Louis‘ status is uncertain after the unexpected death of his mother. St. Louis was on the ice the last time the Penguins squandered a 3-1 series lead, in 2011 against Tampa Bay. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both sidelined for that first-round showdown.