The Penguins try to win a fifth straight game for the second time in three weeks Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers can finally say they've recorded a victory on their team-record homestand.
Add in long-term injuries to forwards Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass and Andrew Ebbett, the suspension of James Neal -- Wednesday is the last of his five games -- and a lower-body injury that's kept star Evgeni Malkin out three of the past six contests -- and it's clear the Penguins (24-10-1) have had to dig for some depth.
They found some Monday against Toronto, with defenseman Brian Dumoulin assisting on Chris Conner's first period goal in his second NHL game. Rookie Philip Samuelsson -- son of Rangers assistant Ulf -- made his NHL debut, fellow rookie Olli Maatta was, according to coach Dan Bylsma, "our best defenseman tonight," and veteran Matt Niskanen played 26 minutes for the third time in five games.
Having Crosby healthy doesn't hurt, either. Pittsburgh's captain broke a 1-all tie in the third period of the 3-1 win, the Penguins' ninth in 10 games.
"We keep finding ways," said Crosby, who has six goals and five assists during an 11-game point streak. "A lot has to do with the way the (new guys) are playing."
Pittsburgh has trailed for a total of 3 minutes, 12 seconds in its last six games, a feeling that must be foreign to the Rangers (16-17-1). New York has gone four-plus games -- a total of 264 minutes, 2 seconds -- without playing with a lead, though it snapped a four-game slide with Sunday's 4-3 shootout win over Calgary.
The Rangers are 1-3-1 on their nine-game homestand.
"It's a big win for us," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after snapping a personal seven-game home losing streak. "Right now, you have to look at it as taking baby steps in improving and start winning. You can't turn this around right away.
"You start with one period, then two periods, then a game. Then you start feeling good about yourself."
Lundqvist, who will start Wednesday, has felt quite good against the Penguins of late after ending a personal five-game losing streak in the series. He's 2-0-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average in his last three starts versus Pittsburgh, and made 28 stops in New York's 5-1 home win Nov. 6.
Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed 11 goals on 64 shots in his last two trips to the Garden, but he's been outstanding overall of late. Fleury has a 1.42 GAA and .952 save percentage in his past seven starts.
Crosby, on the other hand, has endured a bit of a drought against the Rangers. He's failed to record a point in his last two and he's played 11 straight versus New York without scoring a goal despite tallying 11 assists.
The Rangers, who continue to play without captain Ryan Callahan (MCL) and defenseman Marc Staal (concussion), may have a source of offense Wednesday in Derick Brassard. The second-line center has just five goals and is a team-worst minus-10, but he has two goals and three assists in the Penguins' last two visits to MSG.