The Rangers and Bruins will come together for the second time in a 19-day span when they face off in Madison Square Garden (8:00 P.M. ET, NBCSN).
In their previous matchup prior to the all-star break, the Blueshirts grinded out a 3-2 victory in Boston. The Rangers got two goals from Mika Zibanejad and a coast to coast goal by Filip Chytil. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves while Tuukka Rask left the game in the first period after a collision with Chytil.
Since then, the Blueshirts have a come from behind win at New Jersey, and three one-goal losses all on home ice.
Monday night, the Rangers saw the Kings find a late equalizer with a minute left. In overtime, after Zibanejad hit the post, Tyler Toffoli scored his ninth of the season, winning the game for Los Angeles.
“We just weren’t able to close it out,” said Marc Staal. Staal registered an assist in the contest and played over 19 minutes of ice time.
“We’ve got to take the next step and make sure we’re taking advantage of the opportunities we’re working so hard to put ourselves in,” said head coach David Quinn.
Quinn’s Rangers will have a different look entering tonight’s game against Boston. Alexandar Georgiev will make his second start since the all-star break. Georgiev allowed just one goal in a losing effort to the Philadelphia Flyers following the break. This will be Georgiev’s first career start against the Bruins.
Kevin Hayes, who watched his Rangers take on his hometown team due to an injury, will feature on the Rangers second line. However, Neal Pionk, who missed the January 19th meeting with the Bruins, will not play in tonight’s game. The Bruins are the only team (besides the Rangers) Pionk hasn’t played against in his career.
“Listen, we’ve asked him to do an awful lot, he’s played against everybody’s top players, done a really good job,” Quinn said. “The injury kind of slowed him down a little bit, I think he’s lost a little bit of his confidence. Might be good to give him a night off, get back to feeling good about himself, kind of work on some things that we’ve got to address to get him back to playing the way he was.”
Last night, the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 3-1. Rask made 28 saves while Patrice Bergeron scored twice in his 1000th game. With Rask starting yesterday, the Rangers will see Jaroslav Halak who is no stranger to the Blueshirts. Since 2014 when Halak joined the Islanders, the Slovakian goaltender is 11-3 when starting against the Rangers.
The Rangers also made a trade Wednesday afternoon. The Blueshirts traded Cody McLeod to Nashville, in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2020. McLeod was acquired off waivers in January last year when Nashville waived him.
With McLeod traded, the Rangers have recalled Vinni Lettieri from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Lettieri made the roster out of camp but failed to register a point in 16 games. Lettieri registered 27 points in 29 games during his time in Hartford this season.
Smith – Shattenkirk