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Tuesday, March 2nd (All times eastern)

New York Rangers (28-27-7) at Ottawa Senators (36-23-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - After a break of more than two weeks, the Ottawa Senators continue their quest for a Northeast Division title when the New York Rangers head to Scotiabank Place tonight for an important matchup between Eastern Conference members.

The Senators surged to the top of the Northeast standings with a remarkable month-long run that preceded the NHL's lengthy layoff for the Winter Olympics. Ottawa won 14 of its final 16 contests prior to the stoppage, a stretch which began with a 2-0 triumph over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 14.

Ottawa, which now owns a one-point edge on Buffalo for the division's top spot, kept up its red-hot ways with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the New York Islanders on February 14. Down 3-1 after two periods, the Senators rallied to take the lead on goals from Alex Kovalev, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher in the third.

"I just told them, 'We have to get back to the game plan,'" said Senators head coach Cory Clouston about the third period. "I said, 'If we get one early, we can get one late, whether we do it in overtime or in the last few minutes.' That's really all I said -- believe in how we can play. Credit to the guys."

Ottawa also enters tonight's clash riding a seven-game home winning streak and owns an outstanding 23-8-3 record as the host this season. The Rangers have won in each of their last two visits to Scotiabank Place, however, including a 2-1 shootout decision there on November 14.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35-of-36 shots for New York in that November win, and the standout goaltender was sharp as well while competing for Sweden in the Olympics. Lundqvist posted a shutout in two of his three starts during the tournament and finished with a 1.34 goals against average for the fifth-place Swedes.

Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson was a teammate of Lundqvist on the Swedish squad, while Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu earned a bronze medal as a member of Finland. Defensemen Anton Volchenkov (Russia) and Filip Kuba (Czech Republic) also represented Ottawa in Vancouver, with left wing Milan Michalek joining Kuba on the Czech team.

Rangers forwards Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan were both members of the United States team that captured a silver medal after falling in overtime to favored Canada in Sunday's championship game. Center Olli Jokinen helped Finland claim the bronze by scoring two late goals that lifted his club to a 5-3 win over Slovakia, which contained Rangers leading scorer Marian Gaborik, on Saturday.

Gaborik, who netted four goals in seven outings for the Slovaks, sat out New York's most recent test due to a cut on his right leg, but Erik Christensen helped offset the star sniper's loss by scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay on February 14. Lundqvist did his part as well by stopping 27-of-29 chances on the afternoon.

The win was the second in a row for the Rangers, who are tied for ninth place in the East with 63 points and one point back of Montreal for the conference's eighth and final playoff seed. New York had defeated division-rival Pittsburgh in overtime on February 12.

03/02 10:45:03 ET


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