PITTSBURGH — How fitting that the Rangers’ first meeting with the Penguins this season is now.
After a seven-game winning streak, the Rangers take to the ice at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night to continue their latest comeback after a rocky start to their campaign. Seven months ago, they were forced to make a similar dramatic turnaround against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, where they swept the Blueshirts and after just four games was likely to be very disappointing. .
That’s when the Rangers turned the tide and won three straight. Can they do it now?
Recent success shows that Rangers can do it. Not only did they beat high-profile opponents like the Golden Knights, Avalanche, Devils and Maple Leafs — albeit diminished versions of some of them — but the Rangers were outscored 33-14 through seven games. .
I hope they get out of the predicament early. Still, Rangers seem to have grown out of it. As they lost 3-1 against Pittsburgh in their first legitimate playoff game in four seasons, the Rangers learned how quickly things can change in the NHL.
Speaking of the playoffs, the Rangers are back above the relegation zone, finishing third in the Metropolitan Division with 41 points. The Devils have been reeling from five straight losses since last week’s overtime loss to the Rangers. As a result, the Hurricanes fell behind and are now tied with New Jersey with 44 points. The teams meet on Tuesday in Carolina, with the Rangers taking on the fourth-ranked Penguins in the third-place game.
The Rangers and Penguins may meet for the first time since that thrilling seven-game stretch, but the important thing is that this game has playoff implications for this season.
“Turn the page quickly,” Jacob Trouba said after the Rangers scored seven goals against the Blackhawks and the captain posterized Chicago forward Andreas Afanasiou with a beautifully timed squeaker. “It doesn’t matter if you lose a game like this. You have to turn the page and go to the next one. We have another big test coming up in two days and we want to finish this road trip right.”
Pittsburgh ended its seven-game tear with wins over the Central Division-leading Stars and Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights. However, that streak came in the middle of a loss for the Hurricanes, who beat the Penguins behind two third-period goals on Sunday.
The Rangers next three games will be against division foes like the Penguins. Aside from the bottom-placed Blue Jackets and Flyers, only three points separate the top six teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Bloodshed is the word that springs to mind when analyzing Metro – and Rangers are in the thick of it again.