NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, March 19th (All times Eastern)
New Jersey Devils (41-26-5) at New York Rangers (44-20-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The struggling New York Rangers will try to extend their suddenly-small lead atop the Atlantic Division when they host the rival New Jersey Devils tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have lost two straight and three of their last five games and have allowed the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins to move within one point of first place in both the division and Eastern Conference. New York has led the Atlantic and the East for most of the season and held a 10-point edge over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia just over a month ago on Feb. 16.
New York fell to 2-2 on a seven-game homestand when it dropped a 3-1 decision Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov turned away 41 shots to help deliver the road win for the Avs.
Mats Zuccarello had the lone goal of the game for the Rangers, who got 17 stops from Henrik Lundqvist in the loss. Lundqvist was back in the crease after missing the previous two games with flu-like symptoms.
"Their goalie saved the day for them," Lundqvist said of Varlamov. "He played really well, they played really well as a team. We did too, but we just came up a little short."
New York played Saturday without forward Artem Anisimov (shoulder) and defenseman Steve Eminger (undisclosed) and both players could miss tonight's contest as well.
The Rangers, who are 24-9-2 as the host this year, will welcome Detroit and Buffalo to close out their lengthy homestand.
The Devils have lost two of their last three games, but they're still sitting sixth in the East. New Jersey is three points ahead of the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators and five behind Philadelphia.
New Jersey was dealt a 5-2 loss by the Penguins on Saturday, as Matt Cooke scored two goals and Sidney Crosby added three assists in Pittsburgh's 11th straight win. The Penguins were denied a 12th consecutive victory when they lost in overtime at Philadelphia on Sunday.
Andy Greene and Petr Sykora scored for New Jersey, while Martin Brodeur allowed five goals on 44 shots in the loss.
"It's definitely deflating, especially in a big game like that," Brodeur said. "When they make good plays, you've got to respond. We didn't."
The Devils are 21-13-2 on the road this season and are playing the first of two straight away from the Garden State. New Jersey will visit the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night.
Tonight's test marks the sixth and final regular-season meeting between the Rangers and Devils this season. New Jersey has won three of the five encounters so far and the Devils have taken five of eight overall in this series. New York has won four of the last six meetings in NYC.
03/19 10:38:56 ET