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Tuesday, February 20th (All times eastern)

New York Rangers (29-25-5) at New Jersey Devils (36-17-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils begin an important home-and-home series this evening, with the first of the consecutive meetings to take place at Continental Airlines Arena.

These two games carry importance for both teams but are especially crucial for the Rangers, who come into tonight's showdown three points out of a playoff spot. Montreal, the New York Islanders and Toronto are currently tied for the Eastern Conference's final seed with 66 points, with New York having amassed 63 thus far.

Although New Jersey remains in first place in the Atlantic Division, the Devils' lead has been trimmed to five points by Pittsburgh, a team which has posted victories in 12 of its last 14 games.

New York enters the matchup having won four of its five most recent contests, including Sunday's 2-1 decision over Chicago at Madison Square Garden. Martin Straka and Marcel Hossa each scored first-period goals and Henrik Lundqvist made the early lead stand up by stopping 21-of-22 shots.

The Rangers rebounded from Saturday's disappointing 5-3 home defeat to Philadelphia, in which All-Star Brendan Shanahan was briefly hospitalized after colliding with the Flyers' Mike Knuble in the third period. Shanahan suffered a concussion and is sidelined indefinitely.

Defenseman Marek Malik also sat out Sunday's win because of a nagging shoulder injury and is questionable to return tonight.

Jaromir Jagr assisted on Straka's goal to extend his individual scoring streak to six games. The superstar right wing has amassed nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) during the run and has notched an assist in five straight outings.

Straka has now recorded a point in five consecutive games (3 goals, 4 assists).

New Jersey improved to 6-2-0 in February with Saturday's 2-0 triumph over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Martin Brodeur stopped all 26 chances he faced to post his league-leading 11th shutout, while John Madden and Sergei Brylin each lit the lamp in the win.

Brodeur responded from a subpar performance his previous time out, when the future Hall of Famer surrendered five goals on 24 shots in a 5-4 home loss to Pittsburgh on Friday.

Jamie Langenbrunner earned an assist on Brylin's marker and lengthened his point streak to nine straight games, which is tied with Minnesota' Pavol Demitra for the longest current tear in the NHL. The 31-year-old has three goals and 11 assists over the course of the streak.

Brian Gionta, who leads the Devils with 24 goals, missed his second straight game with a groin pull and remains day-to-day.

The area rivals have split six meetings so far this season, although the Devils have won the last two matchups. The Rangers have also struggled in their recent visits across the river, having dropped four of their last five and six of their eight most recent regular-season games at the Meadowlands.

This series will conclude Thursday at New York's Madison Square Garden.

02/20 11:00:49 ET


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