Amid the rumors of selling at the trade deadline, the New York Rangers are actually tasked with playing games with the team they still have.
That task, no matter how long or short it may be, gets underway tonight, as the Rangers take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden (7:00 PM, MSG).
The Rangers (25-20-5) are currently a point out of a playoff spot, but are looking to get a winning streak going after taking a 6-5 victory over the San Jose Sharks last Thursday, escaping a tough Western Conference road trip with a hard-fought victory. Down 3-2 in the second period, Ryan McDonagh changed the course of the game with his first two goals of the season. Brady Skjei likewise broke a long scoring drought, as his first goal since October 28 gave the Rangers a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes. San Jose put pressure on in the third, but JT Miller’s goal off a Mats Zuccarello pass from behind the net gave the Rangers the necessary tally to secure the win.
RYAN MCDONAGH WITH HIS SECOND OF THE NIGHT PUTS THE RANGERS UP 1! pic.twitter.com/7Vy5nsPRCN
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) January 26, 2018
The Maple Leafs (29-18-5) enter tonight’s game with three consecutive wins and four in their past five. They got off to a solid start to their second half, crushing the New York Islanders 5-0 at home last night. Toronto put up 50 shots on net, with defenseman Travis Dermott putting in a goal, the first NHL goal of his career, as well as an assist. Fellow young blueliner Justin Holl likewise put in his first goal in his NHL debut, while Frederik Andersen stopped all 28 shots for the win.
— Pardeep Sidhu (@SidhuDP) February 1, 2018
This marks the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Maple Leafs this season, with Toronto taking the first two matchups. The last was a 3-2 defeat on December 23, one where the Rangers nearly made up a 2-0 deficit. Auston Matthews, returning from injury, made it 3-1, but the Rangers once more cut the lead to one on a Miller goal. New York appeared to tie it minutes later, but the goal was called back after review, leading to the narrow defeat.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490