All the New York Rangers would like for Christmas at this point of the season is some breathing room in the crowded Eastern Conference playoff picture.
They’ll get a chance to earn some tonight as they welcome in the Los Angeles Kings to Madison Square Garden (7:00 PM, MSG).
Facing the hot Kings, the Rangers (16-12-3) missed a chance to pick up some points over the past games, suffering one goal losses to Dallas and Ottawa (the former in overtime), the most recent being a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Senators. Michael Grabner earned his team-high 15th goal of the season to tie the game at a goal apiece in the first, while Pavel Buchnevich helped trim the lead to 3-2 in the third, but the Rangers were unable to put in the final equalizer, dooming them against the team that knocked them out of last season’s postseason festivities.
Despite the loss, Henrik Lundqvist made more history, becoming just the 15th goalie in NHL history to tally 20,000 saves, earning the mark with a stop in the first period.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) December 14, 2017
From The King to the Kings, Los Angeles (20-9-3) is in the midst of an Eastern road trip, which got off to a losing start on Tuesday night, when they fell 5-1 to the New Jersey Devils in Newark. Torrey Mitchell had the lone Los Angeles goal, his first of the season. The loss ended the Kings’ eight-game winning streak.
This will be the first of two meetings between the 2014 Stanley Cup finalists this season, with the rematch scheduled for January 21 at Staples Center. Last season, the Rangers swept the season set, including the 3-2 decision at MSG last January. Lundqvist stopped 36 shots, while Mats Zuccarello provided the game winning goal in the third period. In the LA rematch in March, the Rangers earned a 3-0 shutout, with Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad earning goals.
Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start for the Rangers tonight, likely giving Ondrej Pavelec tomorrow’s late afternoon game in Boston.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490