NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 1st
(All times eastern)
New York Rangers (22-14-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (22-11-5), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is coming off one of
his best games of the season, but he figures to be tested tonight by red-hot
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.
New York continues its road trip this evening with a stop in Florida to battle
Tampa Bay at St. Pete Times Forum.
The Rangers are 5-1-1 over their last seven games and outscored the Islanders
and Devils, 10-3, over back-to-back victories. New York bested New Jersey,
3-1, last time out on Wednesday.
Lundqvist turned aside a season-high 43 shots to record his 16th victory of
the season for the third-place Rangers, who are seven points off the pace in
the Atlantic Division.
"It doesn't matter how we do it, as long as we get the points," said
Lundqvist. "It's hard to be perfect every night but we've found ways to win
and get points."
Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, while Brian Boyle
and Michal Rozsival also lit the lamp.
Already without forwards Vinny Prospal (right knee) and Ryan Callahan (left
hand), New York lost Erik Christensen for the next 4-to-6 weeks due to a right
knee injury. The 27-year-old has tallied six goals and eight assists in 37
games this season.
New York has won six of its last eight on the road and became the first team
in the NHL this season to reach 13 road wins.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has 11 victories at home this year and has split the
first two games of a three-game residency. After a setback to the Bruins on
Tuesday, the Lightning bounced back with a 4-1 victory over the Canadiens.
Stamkos logged a pair of goals and matched a career high with four points for
a third time this season. One of his goals came during a penalty shot when he
followed a spin move with a backhand shot past Montreal's Carey Price.
"I've done that probably 10 times in practice and it's worked every time,"
Stamkos said of the move on Tampa Bay's website. "I said 'What the heck, I'll
give it a try.' I probably surprised Price. I've never done that before, so
I'm just happy it went in."
Stamkos is second in the NHL with 31 goals and 56 points and has scored a goal
in four straight games. He has five tallies in that span as well as 10 in his
last 10 games. The sniper has four goals and five assists in 10 career games
versus the Rangers.
Tampa Bay is 7-1-1 in its last nine and is tied with Washington for first
place in the Southeast Division with 49 points.
With Mike Smith out with a knee injury and Dan Ellis having made five straight
starts, Cedrick Desjardins made 27 saves to win his NHL debut.
Ellis is 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average versus the Rangers, while
Lundqvist is 13-6-3 with 2.11 GAA when facing the Lightning.
Tampa Bay, which won five of its six home games in December, had lost seven of
eight to the Rangers before taking the first two meetings this year. The clubs
last met in New York on Dec. 23, with Tampa winning an 11-round shootout.
The Rangers have lost six of their last nine in Tampa.
01/01 10:56:20 ET