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NHL on NBCSN: Rangers look to push winning streak to six games against Blue Jackets

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Rangers have been invincible since the beginning of the month. They just completed a perfect 4-0 homestand at MSG and they head into tonight’s game riding a five-game winning streak.

Henrik Lundqvist, who collected his 400th win on Saturday, has been between the pipes for each of those five straight victories. After going through many ups and downs in 2016-17, he finally seems to have found a level of consistency to his game. That can only be beneficial to the Rangers heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

Another player who’s been contributing with regularity is forward J.T. Miller. Oh by the way, he leads the team in scoring and he’s on a six-game point streak. Miller’s racked up four multi-point games during that stretch and he’s also recorded at least one point in nine of his last 10 games and 16 of 18.

A win over the Blue Jackets would propel the Rangers into a three-way tie for second in the Metropolitan Division with 75 points, but they’ve played more games than both Columbus and Pittsburgh.

The last time the Rangers dropped a game was back on Jan. 31 when they lost a 6-4 decision to this very same Columbus team.

The Jackets have cooled off since they went on their 16-game winning streak earlier this season. After leading the division for a while, they’ve dropped to second place and are currently nine points behind the red-hot Capitals with two games in hand.

They’re still in the midst of putting together a quality season, but are things starting to unravel under John Tortorella’s watch?

On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos and Elliotte Friedman talked about how the players recently had a meeting with Tortorella about how they want him to ease up on them and be more positive around the group.

You’re probably thinking, “same old Torts,” right? But according to captain Nick Foligno, the report made things seem worse than they actually are.

“This whole story is blown out of proportion,” Foligno told the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday. “We talked about a lot of things in the meeting. Meetings happen all the time, and I’m not sure why this one was turned into something way more than what it was.”

Columbus is coming off a 2-1 win over the Red Wings on Saturday night, but they’ve been mediocre during this last stretch. In their last 18 contests, they’ve managed to come away with just eight wins.

Every team goes through rough patches over the course of an 82-game season, but we’ll see how this young team responds with the Pens and Rangers breathing down their neck.

Even though the schedule won’t be easy this week, Columbus is fortunate that their games against Toronto, Pittsburgh and Nashville will all be played at home. They’ll then go on their bye week before returning home to take on the Isles on Feb. 25. Their next road game won’t come until the 26th when they take on these same Rangers.

Ducks cement Pacific lead as Getzlaf continues his mammoth March

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By the end of Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks removed all doubt: they’re on top of the Pacific Division.

Now, it’s not the sort of substantial lead that the sliding San Jose Sharks squandered; Anaheim merely leads the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers by two standings points after beating the New York Rangers 6-3.

With everyone at 75 games played, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the clarity that comes with a clear lead (though the Sharks and Oilers will disagree):

Pacific top four (all teams with 75 games played)

1. Ducks – 93 points (38 ROW, 41 W)
2. Sharks – 91 poitns (40 ROW, 42 W)
3. Oilers – 91 points (37 ROW, 41 W)

Flames – 88 points (38 ROW, 42 W)

The Ducks are now on a four-game winning streak and managed an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 contests.

With all due respect to Patrick Eaves‘ two goals, it’s Ryan Getzlaf who’s really playing outstanding hockey. He generated four assists in this one, giving him eight helpers in his past four games. He now has a whopping 20 points in March.

A lot going on – fight included – between Corey Perry, Brendan Smith (Video)

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If there’s one thing that’s undeniable from the clip going on, it’s that Corey Perry and Brendan Smith squeezed a lot of activity (carnage?) into a single shift.

Early on in Sunday’s New York Rangers – Anaheim Ducks game, both player delivered hits that were at least borderline dangerous. After that, they traded punches in a pretty solid fight (especially since they seemed a little tired because, again, this was a fairly elaborate sequence).

It’s way too messy a sequence to call neat, but there is something efficient about trading hits and then getting into a fight. That’s a mini-hockey feud in short order.

If you want a pretty moment to counteract all that, check out the great puck movement on this 3-on-1 goal for the Rangers:

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off elbow, Sheary out day-to-day for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Update after the Penguins’ loss: Seemingly good news, if very early and vague: