Those expecting a New York reunion with Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller won’t have to wait long.
The New York Rangers visit the Eastern Conference’s top team on Thursday, facing some old friends on the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM, MSG).
The Rangers (30-31-6) missed a chance to truly reenter the playoff chase in their last game, falling 3-0 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, stymied by the antics of Patrik Laine. The superstar sophomore now has 38 goals on the season, tying him for second in the league. Wasted in the shutout was a 31-save performance from Henrik Lundqvist, while Steve Mason countered with 31 saves of his own, albeit in a shutout effort.
While McDonagh won’t suit up tonight, still nursing an injury, Miller has made an immediate impact for the Lightning (46-17-4), having scored two goals in his first two games in a new shade of blue. Tampa is coming off a thrilling 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers in overtime on Tuesday. Yanni Gourde tallied three points, including two goals, while Brayden Point scored a showstopping game winner in the extra period. Ex-Ranger Anton Stralman had one of the assists. Tampa’s past six games have gone into overtime or a shootout, with the Lightning winning five of them.
This will be the second of three meetings between the Rangers and Lightning this season, and the first of two this month. Ironically, it was Miller who scored the game winning goal for the Rangers in overtime, giving the Rangers a 2-1 win on the road. Chris Kredier scored the other goal, while Gourde had the Tampa Bay tally.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490