At a glance: After coming up short against the league-leading Anaheim Ducks Monday night, the New York Rangers face another big test Wednesday when they host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. The Penguins enter Wednesday’s match with a four-game winning streak that has them perched in first place of the Eastern Conference.
First look: Having previously coached in the Western Conference, Alain Vigneault hasn’t seen Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in action much in recent years. He admitted he was excited about the challenge facing his team: “I think everybody’s going to be ready for tonight."
Hometown boy: Rangers forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after being scratched Monday night to face his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh-area native is trying to make a strong impression while the Rangers organization determines what is best for the young winger: send him to the AHL to play top minutes or keep him in a more limited role with the big club. Making room for Miller’s return to the lineup is hulking forward Brandon Mashinter, who will sit out along with depth defenseman Justin Falk.
Leading the way: Crosby leads the league with 23 points through the first 15 games of the season. His dominant offensive production has been vital considering the team has suffered some significant injuries up front. The Pens are without James Neal and Beau Bennett, though Neal joined the Penguins for the morning skate for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury last month.
Nothing on Nash: Speaking of injuries, the Rangers still say there is nothing to report on injured winger Rick Nash, who suffered a concussion last month. The star forward will not be available when the Rangers travel to Columbus for the first time since acquiring Nash in a blockbuster deal with the Blue Jackets during the offseason of 2012.