NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 7th
(All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (33-34-12) at New York Rangers (43-32-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will try to win a third straight game
and inch closer to a playoff spot when they welcome the Atlanta Thrashers for
tonight's battle at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers are currently holding onto the eighth and final playoff berth in
the Eastern Conference and have two games left on their regular season
New York is two points in front of ninth-seeded Carolina, which beat Detroit
on Wednesday, but is idle tonight. The seventh-seeded Buffalo Sabres are one
point ahead of the Rangers and are also off this evening. Both the Hurricanes
and Sabres have two games left in the regular season.
The Blueshirts have won their last two games and pulled off a thrilling
comeback victory Monday over the visiting Boston Bruins. The Rangers found
themselves down by a 3-0 count midway through the second period, but they
scored five unanswered goals against the Bruins to take the 5-3 decision.
Brandon Dubinsky tied the game with 3:48 left in the third and Michael Sauer
put the Blueshirts up for good 51 seconds later. Derek Stepan added an empty-
net tally with 53 seconds left to seal the victory.
Vinny Prospal also scored twice for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist fought
off a shaky start to stop 27-of-30 shots and pick up the win.
"We were sluggish early on and Boston won a lot of races to the puck," Rangers
head coach John Tortorella said. "We had some struggles as far as their
quickness, but there was no panic. For such a young group, to stay within
themselves is a great lesson. It is obviously a huge two points."
However, it wasn't all good news for the Rangers as right wing Ryan Callahan
suffered a fractured right leg in Monday's win and is out indefinitely.
Callahan was injured when he blocked a shot from Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara
with 1:45 remaining in the third period.
Callahan also missed 19 games earlier this season with a broken hand he
suffered while blocking a shot against Pittsburgh on December 15. The five-
year veteran, who has 77 blocks this season -- fifth-best among forwards in
the NHL -- has a career-best 23 goals and 48 points in 60 contests this
Monday's test began a season-ending, three-game homestand for the Rangers, who
are 19-16-4 as the host this season. New York's final game of the regular
season will be Saturday against New Jersey.
Atlanta was officially eliminated from the playoff race after Saturday's loss
in Boston and followed that setback with Tuesday's lopsided defeat in
Nashville. Jordin Tootoo and Sergei Kostitsyn each had two goals and an assist
to help the Predators breeze to a 6-3 win over the Thrashers.
Blake Wheeler scored twice and Nik Antropov added a goal for the Thrashers,
who have lost three of their last four. Chris Mason was pulled in the second
period after giving up four goals on 13 shots. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 9-of-11
shots the rest of the way.
Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom missed the last game with a shoulder
injury and is expected to miss today's game as well. Enstrom has set personal
bests in goals (10) and points (51) in 72 games this season.
Atlanta is playing its final road game of the year tonight and has a 16-19-5
mark as the guest this year. The Thrashers will close the season with home
tests against Carolina and Pittsburgh on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
The Thrashers have taken two of three from New York this season and have won
seven out of nine overall in the series. Atlanta has also won its last four
tests at Madison Square Garden.
04/07 10:53:14 ET