Pregame Analysis

Rangers Battle Dallas in Cross Conference Showdown

After a successful bounce back game against the Florida Panthers, The Rangers host the Dallas Stars where they hope to extend their home win streak to six in a row (7:00 p.m. ET, MSG).

Saturday night, the Blueshirts defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2 in a back and forth contest. The Rangers found themselves down 2-1 and used three unanswered goals to defeat the Panthers. Early in the first, Filip Chytil became the only teenager in Rangers history to have a three-game goal streak. Brendan Smith, who was a healthy scratch the past three games, tied the game by beating Roberto Luongo top-shelf with eight minutes to go in the first period.

Vladislav Namestnikov gave the Rangers the lead after a beautiful feed from Zibanejad early in the second period. Chris Kreider would tally a power-play marker in the third period giving the Rangers a healthy lead which they protected well. Henrik Lundqvist registered an assist on the play for his first point of the season. In addition, Lundqvist made 39 saves and passed Jacques Plante for seventh on the all-time goalie win list.

“It’s a proud feeling…it means a lot to me,” said Lundqvist.

Ryan Strome played his first game with the Rangers since being traded for Ryan Spooner, and he was surprised with their work ethic. “This team works hard,” said Strome. “I feel like I was shocked by their work ethic and their compete level…no lack of hard work and it’s good to be a part of.”

With the win, the Blueshirts extended their win streak to five on home ice, the longest in the NHL this season. “It’s a great place to play,” said head coach David Quinn. “We’ve got incredible fans and we feed off of it.”

The Rangers are now 7-1-1 in their last nine games and they lead the NHL in points since October 30th.

Tonight, the Dallas Stars come to Madison Square Garden for the only time this season. Dallas has had a similar path the Rangers have to this point in the season. After a poor start, Dallas has gone 6-2-2 and now find themselves in the first wildcard spot in the west. Like the Rangers, Dallas hired a collegiate coach in former Denver head coach, Jim Montgomery.

The Stars are led by their top line consisting of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. Radulov who has missed 10 games this season, has put up 15 points in 10 games. Tyler Seguin is also a point a game player with Jamie Benn not too far behind. The Stars won both meeting last year and will hope for more of the same.

Ben Bishop will get a surprising start at MSG. Bishop, beat the Islanders on Sunday 6-2 and will immediately be back in the net tonight. Despite backup goalie Anton Khudobin having a terrific season, Montgomery told reporters the reason for Bishop starting again was because the team liked his record at Madison Square Garden (3-1). Bishop holds a 10-2 career record against the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist will make his fourth straight start for the Blueshirts. In three of his last four starts, he has held the opposing team to two goals or under after 60 minutes. In their last meeting, Lundqvist made 39 saves in a 2-1 loss in Dallas.

The Rangers have sent down Vinni Lettieri and have called up Steven Fogarty from Hartford. Lettieri has struggled the past month, including finding himself in the press box several times. This move likely is to get Lettieri more playing time and allow him to build up his confidence. Expect him to be back with the Blueshirts at some point this season.

Steven Fogarty, 25, will play in just his second career NHL game. Fogarty had 14 points in 19 contests in Hartford. He will join the fourth line with Cody McLeod and Lias Andersson.

“I know I got a game in last year but this kind of feels like my first one all over again,” said Fogarty. “Really excited to get going.”

“He’s got a quick stick and a quick mind,” said Quinn. “He did a good job in training camp, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the lineup tonight.”

Zuccarello will miss his second straight game due to a groin injury. Brady Skjei will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.

 

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