NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, December 11th
(All times eastern)
New York Rangers (17-12-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (15-11-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will aim for their fourth win in five
December games when they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets for
tonight's clash at Nationwide Arena.
New York has won five of seven and seven of its last 10 trips to the ice. The
Blueshirts began this month with a home-and-home sweep of the Islanders and
then split two games with the Ottawa Senators.
The Rangers lost a home test to the Senators on Sunday before winning Thursday
night in Canada's capital city. The series was not technically a home-and-home
because the Senators had a game in Montreal between their matchups with the
New York's victory over Ottawa was its fourth straight road win and it
improved the Rangers' away record to 11-4-0 this season. Mike Sauer's first
career goal, a power-play tally late in the third period, was the game-winner
for the Rangers in the 5-3 win over the Sens at Scotiabank Place.
Derek Stepan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Erik Christensen also scored for the
Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 24 saves and Brandon Dubinsky added an
empty-net goal in the winning effort.
Marian Gaborik notched two assists in the win and the speedy winger has seven
points (4 goals, 3 assists) over his last five games.
"Gaborik was very good tonight, both with the puck and without it," said
Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "I like the way that line played."
Lundqvist has been excellent in net for the Rangers lately, posting a 5-2-0
record with a 1.67 goals against average, a .938 save percentage and two
shutouts in his last seven games. He may get a rest in one game this weekend,
as New York will also host the Washington Capitals tomorrow night.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times recently after flying
high in the middle of November. Columbus posted five straight wins from Nov.
17-24, but it has lost six out of seven since then, going 1-5-1 over that
Columbus' lone win during this funk came Monday against visiting Dallas, but
the Blue Jackets followed that victory up with Thursday's loss in St. Louis.
David Backes finished with a goal and two assists while Jaroslav Halak made 27
saves in the Blues' 4-1 victory over Columbus.
Mathieu Garon allowed three goals on 23 shots and Jan Hejda scored the lone
goal for the Blue Jackets.
St. Louis controlled the game from the start, scoring twice on the power play
in the opening period. The Blues finished 3-for-3 on the man advantage.
"I thought we played great 5-on-5," Columbus' Rick Nash said. "I thought we
were all over them. Special teams was the difference tonight, and they buried
Columbus had lost three straight on home ice before defeating the Stars on
Monday. The Blue Jackets, who will begin a three-game road trip Monday in
Calgary, are 7-7-1 as the home club this year.
The Blue Jackets will be aiming for revenge against the Rangers tonight after
getting dealt a 7-4 loss in the Big Apple last year. It was the second
straight win in the series for the Blueshirts after dropping the previous
New York has lost in four of its last six trips to Ohio.
12/11 10:35:23 ET