The Rangers are set to conclude a four-game homestand when they host the Los Angeles Kings (6:00 P.M. ET, MSG+).
Friday night, the Rangers were defeated 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres. Despite the scoreboard saying the game was close, the Sabres were the better team for most of the night and they were able to stop the late comeback. Rangers goals came from Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Former Blueshirt Jimmy Vesey who was traded to Buffalo this past offseason notched the game-winning goal. Alex Georgiev registered 25 saves in a losing effort.
“They clog it up pretty good, basically just waiting for us to make our mistakes, and then they go,” Zibanejad said. “They have some skilled guys in that locker room and they made us pay for our mistakes today. We didn’t play as simple as we have been for the past couple weeks, and like we did the last game against Toronto. We didn’t put ourselves in a good spot to win the game.”
“They just wanted it more than we did,” said head coach David Quinn. “There were spurts where we looked like we were ready to compete and do what it was going to take to win, but certainly wasn’t anywhere near enough.”
Since the Rangers started the three-goalie rotation, Henrik Lundqvist has a record 1-2, Alexander Georgiev is 2-2, and Igor Shesterkin is 4-1. And Quinn will turn to Shesterkin in the final game of the homestand. Shesterkin last played against Toronto on Wednesday and came out as the winning netminder.
The Kings played Saturday in New Jersey and were shutout 3-0. The Kings recently traded backup goalie Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford to Toronto for Trevor Moore and two third round picks (one pick in 2020, one pick in 2021 is conditional). New backup goaltender Calvin Petersen made 31 saves in defeat. Now the Kings will turn to starting goalie Jonathan Quick in Madison Square Garden in hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak. Quick is 11-21-3 with a 3.05 goals against average and holds a save percent of .894.
Anze Kopitar, the Kings captain, leads the team in goals with 17, and points with 47. Veteran Jeff Carter who the Kings rely on for offense, has just 25 points on the season. Los Angeles’s defensive leader Drew Doughty has 28 points but is a minus 13 this season.
The Blueshirts will stick with the same lineup entering the game. Forward Michael Haley who has played in just 22 games will undergo surgery for a bilateral core muscle injury and will be out indefinitely. Quinn said it Haley did not suffer a recent injury, and that he had a problem that has got worse and worse until it needed surgery.
After briefly experimenting defensive combinations with Ryan Lindgren paired with Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei with Adam Fox, Quinn hinted the Rangers will stick with the normal combinations for the foreseeable future. “It just seems to be the best pairings for us.” The Blueshirts will look to split the season series after being defeated by Los Angeles 3-1 in December.