After defeating the Lightning with seven players aged 21 or younger, the Rangers will keep the same lineup against the Predators on Saturday afternoon (2:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
Without Henrik Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad and Marc Staal, the Rangers played arguably their best game of the season as they went on to outplay the Tampa Bay Lightning. After trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Rangers would go on to win the game 4-1. Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil and Adam Fox would all beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. All three goal scorers were aged 21 or younger. Ryan Strome would add the empty net to seal the game.
“We were certainly more engaged,” said head coach David Quinn. “We embraced the battle. And once that happens, you start rolling, you get a chance. I thought we did it for 60 minutes.”
In Chytil’s first game since being recalled from Hartford, the Czech Republican played over 17 minutes and got his first goal of the season.
“We saw flashes of it last year, but you know, the guy (Chytil) turned 20 this past September,” Quinn said. “His battle level was so much higher, he was on the right side of the play, there wasn’t much cheating in his game, if any at all.”
Fox registered his career goal late in the third to give the Rangers a late two-goal lead. Ryan Lindgren, who was also recalled from Hartford, registered an assist on Fox’s goal for his first career point.
“It was awesome. A lot of emotions,” said Fox after Tuesday’s victory. “I have some family and friends here tonight, and for them to be here for that was definitely special.”
With Zibanejad still injured, the Rangers will take on the Nashville Predators with the same lineup. Veteran defender Marc Staal will be a healthy scratch for the second time in his career after being a healthy scratch against the Lightning. Alexandar Georgiev who made 29 saves against the Lightning, will make his second consecutive start.
Georgiev and the Blueshirt defense will have to be sharp as they play the league’s top offense. Nashville is the only team in the NHL to average more than four goals in each game. The Predators got even more dangerous when Filip Forsberg returned from injury on Thursday. Nashville has seven skaters who have already registered ten points, whereas the Rangers have just three.
Pekka Rinne will likely get the start for the Predators. Rinne has yet to be defeated in regulation this season. The 36-year-old is 7-0-2 with a 2.19 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
Quinn will look for his team to carry momentum and continue to compete hard.
“You have to play with a little bit of anger,” Quinn said. “When you don’t, it’s going to be difficult to have success.”
“We know what we’re capable of and what we need to do to be successful,” said Jacob Trouba.
The Blueshirts will look to get back to .500 for the first time since October 17th. The Rangers have won four of the past six meetings against the Predators, including a 4-3 win in Nashville last season.
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