The Pittsburgh Penguins will begin 2014 on home ice against a very familiar foe, the New York Rangers.
It will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams, and each has picked up one victory, although the Penguins victory took a shootout to decide the winner.
Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Callahan will both play tonight, but against one another – something that seemed extremely unlikely just a few days ago.
Pyatt, who was put on waivers by the Rangers on New Years Day and then picked up by the Penguins the following day, will make his debut in black and gold against his former team. Tonight will give Pyatt, who has 300 points in 894 career games, one last chance to make an impact with a Stanley Cup contender.
Pyatt has spent time with five different teams, and now that Pascal Dupuis is likely out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Pyatt is a guy who the front office believes can help fill that missing void.
Never known as a goal scorer, Pyatt plays with a lot of grit and brings in another veteran to plug into the fourth line for Dan Bylsma.
The Penguins went 11-3-0 in the month of December, despite numerous injuries to key players. Defensemen Rob Scuderi, Deryk Engelland and Brooks Orpik recently returned to the lineup, and as the Penguins continue to get healthier, there is no reason why the winning ways should stop anytime soon.
The two biggest names missing from the lineup are currently all-pro center Evgeni Malkin and the leader on the Pens' blue line in Kris Letang, but both have began practicing with the team and should return to the lineup in the next week or so.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will return tonight against the Penguins after missing nine games with a left knee sprain. He was originally expected to miss 4-6 weeks and tonight's game is three games earlier than the low-end of his projected return.
The Penguins currently have a stranglehold on the Metropolitan Division and the best record in the Eastern Conference, but any game against a division rival is key, and with Callahan giving the Rangers an extra jump, tonight's game should be fast paced and exciting.
The Pens are 17-3-0 at Consol Energy Center this year, but will need to be strong defensively if they want to pick up two points. The Rangers now have a full, healthy roster, whereas the Penguins may struggle to score goals without Malkin or Dupuis in the lineup.
Marc-Andre Fleury will start tonight between the pipes for the Penguins. Puck drop is 7 p.m. EST.
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