The Rangers begin a five-game home stand against the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning (8:00 P.M. ET, NBC).
The Rangers top line stole the show against the New Jersey Devils, Thursday night. The first line consisting of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello combined for eight points, and scored all four goals. Zibanejad registered his first career hat trick with the New York Rangers. Kreider scored the Blueshirts third goal and Zuccarello had three assists on the night. The top line has put up 25 points in the past four games.
“They’ve got the makeup of a perfect line,” said Ryan Strome. “They’ve got a scorer and a guy in the middle who can do everything, they’ve got a speed winger, and on the other side they’ve got a playmaker that makes little plays all over the ice that people might not appreciate as much but that are so helpful.
Henrik Lundqvist registered 19 saves in a winning effort and is now on a four-game win streak. A win tonight Lundqvist will put on a personal five-game win streak.
Tonight, the Rangers play the Tampa Bay Lighting who are currently leading the Presidents trophy race by seven points. The Lightning were shutout for the first time Friday night in Long Island, except they still won the game 1-0 in a shootout. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 36 shots he saw and he stopped all three Islander shootout takers.
With Vasilevskiy getting a shutout last night, the Rangers won’t see the Russian netminder as Louis Domingue will likely get the nod. Domingue has won his last eight outings and 16 games in 20 starts this season. While the Rangers won’t likely see the Lightning all-star netminder, they will see former Ranger players Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, J.T. Miller and Anton Stralman (Stralman was a healthy scratch last night).
In the previous meeting this season, despite the Rangers playing them hard five-on-five, they took six penalties against Tampa Bay including four penalties in the first period. The Blueshirts would ultimately lose the game 6-3.
“Against a team like this, you can’t take six penalties like we did the last game we played them, said head coach David Quinn We put ourselves at a huge disadvantage. I don’t care who you’re playing, you put yourself at a huge disadvantage when you take six penalties and you only have one power play. So you can’t have that discrepancy. We’re certainly aware of that.”
“Five-on-five that game, we had a great game, it was just the power plays hurt,” said Strome. “We played them hard in Tampa, we’ve got to do it again.”
Freddy Claesson skated on his own for the second straight day and is getting closer to returning. “Maybe a week to 10 days away,” Quinn said.
Smith – Shattenkirk