NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 6th (All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (42-15-7) at New Jersey Devils (36-24-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will try to add another victory to their current point streak, as they visit the struggling New Jersey Devils for tonight's Atlantic Division battle at Prudential Center.
The Rangers, who lead the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference and NHL with 91 points, have compiled a 4-0-2 record over their last six games and are starting to close in on their first division title since 1994. With 18 games left in its regular season, New York is leading the Atlantic by eight points over Pittsburgh.
The Devils, meanwhile, have lost five of their last six games and enter tonight as the sixth seed in the East. New Jersey is two points behind Philadelphia in the conference standings and just one in front of seventh- seeded Ottawa.
The Rangers and Devils have split four meetings so far this season, but New York has taken seven of 11 overall in the series. Jersey has taken two of the last three encounters in the Garden State.
New York is coming off Sunday's 4-3 home win over the Boston Bruins. Derek Stepan scored the winner in the third period just 39 seconds after Boston's David Krejci tied the score at 3-3. Marian Gaborik, Ruslan Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin also scored for the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 30 shots to pick up his 31st win of the season.
"They're not always going to be pretty, but I have a tremendous amount of respect in these guys now," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "They put in a tremendous amount of work today to get one more goal than the other guys and they earned this win."
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has missed the last three games with a bruised foot and he is questionable for tonight. Callahan is second on the Rangers this season in goals (25) and points (47).
New York is kicking off a three-game road trip tonight and is 20-8-5 as the guest this season.
The Devils ended a four-game slide with a strong showing in Friday's 5-0 win in Washington, but New Jersey was blanked Sunday by the New York Islanders as rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson posted the first shutout of his career to help the Isles take a 1-0 win at Nassau Coliseum.
Martin Brodeur was the hard-luck loser for the Devils, turning away 24-of-25 shots in the setback.
"You go through stretches where the offense isn't playing well and the defense is there and other stretches where the offense is putting up goals and the defense doesn't play well," said Brodeur. "You just try to work hard and play well every night and things will work themselves out."
The Devils are playing four straight games against the New York teams, as they'll follow tonight's test with a home-and-home series against the Islanders.
New Jersey is 16-12-3 as the host this year compared to a 20-12-2 mark on the road.
Devils forward Alexei Ponikarovsky has sat out two straight games with an injured right knee and he is questionable for tonight. The Russian veteran has five goals and six assists in 17 games with New Jersey since coming over in a trade with Carolina.
03/06 10:46:29 ET