NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 24th (All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (27-37-9) at New York Rangers (40-30-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The sizzling New York Rangers will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season tonight, when they host the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have won five straight games, giving the club its longest winning streak since it notched seven consecutive victories from Oct. 3-17, 2009.
The hot streak has given a big boost to the Rangers' playoff chances in the East. With 84 points, New York is seventh in the conference and three points ahead of Buffalo for the East's eighth and final postseason berth. The Rangers have also pulled six points ahead of the ninth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes.
New York's latest triumph, which was also the club's seventh win in eight games, came in Tuesday's 1-0 decision over the visiting Florida Panthers. Brandon Dubinsky scored the lone goal of the contest in the third period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 22 shots to record his 10th shutout of the season.
Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov picked up the assists on Dubinsky's 22nd goal of the season.
Lundqvist, making his 18th consecutive start, turned aside five shots in the first period, nine in the second and eight in the third to register his 34th career shutout.
"It is going to come down to low-scoring games so you have to be sharp," Lundqvist said. "We didn't get frustrated. It is easy to get frustrated in a game like this. The key is being mentally sharp."
The Swedish backstop needs one more shutout this year to set a new career best for white-washings in a season. Lundqvist, who is expected to start tonight, also had 10 shutouts in 2007-08. He has one shutout in 22 career games (20 starts) against Ottawa.
The Rangers played their second straight game without Marc Staal (lower body) on Tuesday and the defenseman is questionable for tonight's game.
Tonight's tilt will complete a brief two-game homestand for New York, which has won four straight on home ice and is 18-16-3 at MSG this season.
The Senators are last in the East with just 63 points on the year and the club has been reduced to a spoiler role. Ottawa had won two straight prior to dropping Tuesday's close regulation decision in Carolina.
Chad LaRose scored a pair of goals as the Hurricanes came from behind to defeat the Senators, 4-3. Ottawa had taken a 2-0 lead early in the first period, but Carolina would draw even by the end of 20 minutes before taking the lead for good late in the second.
Marek Svatos, Colin Greening and Erik Karlsson each lit the lamp for the Senators. Curtis McElhinney surrendered all four goals on 24 shots.
"Overall, I thought we played a pretty good game," McElhinney said.
Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who was signed to a four-year deal earlier in the week, is questionable for tonight's game. A lower-body injury has relegated Anderson to a backup role in each of the past three games, but he could be ready to get the nod over McElhinney tonight.
"It's feeling pretty good," Anderson told his team's official website after practice on Wednesday. "Hopefully, I can get back in there tomorrow and get back on track."
In other injury news for the Sens, the club could get forward Milan Michalek back in the lineup tonight. Michalek has missed all 11 games this month after suffering a broken foot on Feb. 26 against Philadelphia. He is considered day- to-day and is questionable for tonight.
Beginning with Tuesday's game in Raleigh, the Sens are closing March with five of their six tests on the road. Ottawa is just 14-18-4 as the guest this year.
The Senators beat the Rangers in New York to open this season series on Dec. 5, but the Blueshirts won the next two encounters in Ottawa. New York has taken three of four and five of seven overall in the series, but the Sens have won two straight and eight of their last 10 in the Big Apple.
03/24 10:53:53 ET