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National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network

Monday, March 5th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (33-23-9) at New York Rangers (31-27-7), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A crucial home-and-home set between bitter intracity rivals begins tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers and Islanders resume a season series that's been one sided so far.

The clubs have met four times previously during this campaign, with the Islanders emerging victorious in each of those encounters. Three of those showdowns took place at Madison Square Garden, where the Isles have won four in a row dating back to last season.

The Islanders also have a chance to put their neighbors in a further hole in regards to earning a postseason berth. The Rangers are currently tied for 11th in the East and trail Carolina by four points for the conference's eighth and final playoff spot, although the Blueshirts do have three games in hand on the Hurricanes.

The red-hot Islanders are in a significantly better position, as the club stands seventh in the Eastern Conference with 75 points, two better than Carolina. The team is 5-0-1 over its last six games and is coming off Saturday's easy victory over the lowly Washington Capitals.

Miroslav Satan scored twice and Marc-Andre Bergeron had a goal and two assists as the Islanders routed the Capitals, 6-2, at the Verizon Center.

Newly-acquired forward Ryan Smyth scored his first goal in a New York sweater, while Mike Sillinger and Chris Simon also tallied in the win. Rick DiPietro finished with 27 saves between the pipes for the Isles.

The Rangers also come in on a positive note after Saturday's come-from-behind victory over St. Louis at the Garden. Marcel Hossa clinched the 3-2 triumph when he scored in the fourth round of the shootout.

The Blueshirts trailed 2-0 heading into the third period but drew even on goals by Karel Rachunek and Sean Avery, with Avery's coming with just 2:53 remaining in regulation.

Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander also lit the lamp for New York during the shootout, while reserve goaltender Stephen Valiquette stopped 25-of-27 shots.

Tonight's contest wraps up a six-game homestand for the Rangers. The team is 2-1-2 thus far on the stretch and 14-14-5 as the host on the season.

On the injury front, Rangers forward Martin Straka sat out his third consecutive game Saturday with a shoulder problem. The veteran Czech, who has amassed 27 goals and 38 assists in 2006-07, is questionable to return this evening.

These rivals will meet three more times during the regular season after tonight's tilt, including a clash at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

03/05 10:18:10 ET

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