Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Get your game notes: Penguins at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight, the Rangers will become the first team since 1989 to play five playoff games in seven nights. In the 1989 playoffs, the first five games of all eight first-round, best-of-seven matchups were scheduled to be played in seven nights. Two of those series never got to the fifth game in seven nights, however, as Montreal swept Hartford, and Pittsburgh swept the N.Y. Rangers in their first-ever postseason meeting.

• For the fourth time this season, the Penguins will be playing the same opponent on back-to-back nights. On each of the previous three occasions, they either won both or lost both of the games. This will be the Rangers’ second time playing the same opponent on back-to-back nights, both times in the playoffs.

• Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 22 Rangers shots on goal for his 50th career postseason win and seventh career postseason shutout. The latter number established a new franchise record, surpassing the mark that he shared with two-time Stanley Cup winner Tom Barrasso (1991 & 1992) on the franchise’s all-time postseason shutout list.

• Rangers winger Rick Nash (336) and Penguins center Sidney Crosby (274) have combined for 610 career regular-season goals, but their struggles in the playoffs continued in Game 2. Both star players went without a goal, extending lengthy goalless streaks dating back to the 2013 playoffs. (Note: The shifts, time on ice and shots on goal tallies begin immediately following their last playoff goals.)

• The Rangers went 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 2, and have now failed on their last 29 opportunities with the man advantage. Even after starting the playoffs 3-for-8, their current rut has dropped them to 3-for-37 (8.1%) for the playoffs, worst among all remaining teams in the playoffs. The Penguins killed off 20 of 27 power-play opportunities (74.1%) in the first round vs. Columbus, but have bumped that figure up to 80.0% by going 8-for-8 in this series.

• The Penguins, who lead all playoff teams with 36.2 shots per game, outshot the Rangers 71-49 in the first two games of this series (36-27 in Game 1, 35-22 in Game 2). For New York, it is a sharp reversal from Round 1, in which they allowed a first-round low 25.6 shots per game, outshooting Philadelphia in five of the seven games and allowing more than 30 shots only once, in Game 3.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.