NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, February 14th
(All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Lightning (26-23-11) at New York Rangers (27-27-7), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Still trailing in the playoff race, the Rangers would love
to pick up another two points before the Olympic break. However, duplicating
their last performance versus the Lightning on Sunday afternoon might be
difficult without two key players.
New York plays host tonight at Madison Square Garden to a Tampa Bay squad that
saw the Rangers pot a season-high eight goals in the last meeting between the
New York has won just three of its last 11 games and is three points back of
Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay is a
point back of the Habs in the standings.
The Rangers certainly looked like playoff contenders the last time they faced
the Lightning, as eight different skaters scored in an 8-2 thrashing at MSG on
Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal and Vinny Prospal all had a goal and an assist in
that game for the Rangers, while Marian Gaborik picked up four assists. The
Rangers won for the fifth time in six games versus the Lighting both overall
and in New York.
Gaborik, who leads New York with 35 goals and 69 points, will miss today's
game though due to a leg laceration suffered in practice on Tuesday. The slick
forward sat out Wednesday's loss in Nashville and lasted just four minutes and
two seconds in Friday's 3-2 overtime win over the Penguins before calling it a
The Rangers also lost defenseman Michael Del Zotto in the Pittsburgh game due
to a lacerated left rib cage suffered when he fell onto the skate of the
Penguins' Evgeni Malkin early in the first period. Del Zotto will also sit out
this game after needing 50 stitches to close the gash.
Skating with a short bench versus Pittsburgh, Olli Jokinen had an assist
before netting the game-winning goal 1:02 into overtime. It was Jokinen's
second goal in five games since being acquired from Calgary in a trade.
"I think we all stepped it up and every single player played hard," Jokinen
told the Rangers' Web site. "We had a short bench tonight, but everybody
battled hard. Good things happen when you work that hard, and usually you get
Dubinsky and Prospal added goals for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist made
25 saves in helping his club snap a seven-game losing streak to Pittsburgh.
The Lightning have lost two straight since a season-high four-game winning
streak, but continue to receive red-hot play from Steven Stamkos and Martin
Stamkos, the top pick of the 2008 draft, has nine goals and 12 assists over a
12-game point streak, giving him 34 goals and 34 assists on the season. He had
23 goals and 23 helpers as a rookie last year.
St. Louis, meanwhile, has nine goals and seven assists over a nine-game point
streak and Steve Downie has chipped in with three goals and eight points over
a six-game run.
Both Stamkos and Downie scored in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Islanders, while
St. Louis had a pair of assists. Mike Lundin and Nate Thompson also had goals
and Antero Niittymaki gave up five goals on 33 shots.
"We'll just try to work harder. We have another big game [Sunday] and we can't
dwell on what happened [Saturday]," forward Alex Tanguay said. "We have to
come up big one more time. After [Sunday], we certainly have enough time to
get away from all the pressure."
The Lightning have lost six of their last nine on the road.
02/14 10:30:21 ET