Rangers vs. Lightning
Madison Square Garden, 1:00 p.m. Sunday
Rangers’ Record: 33-26-4
Lightning Record: 36-18-7
The Rangers have one shot left to cream the Tampa Bay Lightning who have had their number all season. The Lightning have won all three times the two teams have faced each other – and three different ways: regulation, overtime and a shootout.
If the standings remain the same in April, the seventh place Rangers would face the second place Lightning in the first round.
The Rangers will be hoping newly acquired defenseman Bryan McCabe will lock the blue line down with the youthful core and bring some firepower to the power play. McCabe was traded from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Tim Kennedy and a third round draft pick.
The Blueshirts skated rings around the struggling Washington Capitals in a 6-0 victory on Friday. Derek Stepan’s line with Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello had another strong outing while Erik Christensen brought some offense to the table, and not in a shootout.
Christensen had a career high four-point game which might be the spark the inconsistent forward has been missing.
With 10 goals in their last two victories, the Southeast division leading Lightning won’t be an easy task. Martin St. Louis has been red hot all season and is in the midst of an eight game point scoring streak. They snapped the New Jersey Devils winning streak on Friday with a 2-1 victory.
The Rangers can’t get into penalty trouble with Steven Stamkos and St. Louis to contend with. Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle and Co. need to keep the offensive pedal to the metal for sixty minutes. The Lightning beat the Rangers 2-1 in overtime on New Year’s Day the last time the teams met.
While Henrik Lundqvist has been rock solid in net notching his eighth shutout for the league lead, it might be time for a breather to give Martin Biron a go.
The afternoon matinee kicks off a three game homestand for the Blueshirts who need to keep piling on the points in the standings.
Injury update: Ruslan Fedotenko reinjured his shoulder in his first game back and will be out tomorrow along with Marc Staal (knee) and Marian Gaborik (concussion) who is day-to-day.