Predators-Rangers Preview

Their latest defeat prompted the New York Rangers to hold a

closed-door, players-only meeting they hope will resolve some

issues and help the team get back on track.

The slumping Nashville Predators are searching for answers of

their own.

New York looks to avoid a fourth straight home loss while

dealing Nashville a sixth consecutive defeat Tuesday night.

The Rangers (15-15-1) seemed out of sync in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to

Washington, a performance that came one night after opening a

franchise-record nine-game homestand with a 4-3 overtime loss to

New Jersey.

They’ve lost three of four overall, allowing at least four goals

in each defeat. They haven’t lost four straight at Madison Square

Garden since Feb. 20-March 3, 2011.

”We should be the ones dictating everything,” defenseman Ryan

McDonagh said. ”Especially home games, it’s been too easy for

teams coming in here. (We need to) come out with a lot of fire and

get some hits, some blocked shots and get the crowd into it.

”They really had nothing to stand up for, and it’s something

we’re ashamed of. It’s something we take some pride in here and try

(to) correct.”

The players gathered sans coaches and media for roughly 15

minutes Sunday hoping to spark a turnaround.

”It’s not going to come from anyone else except from the 22

guys in here,” center Derek Stepan said. ”It doesn’t matter if

you were playing well, playing bad. It doesn’t matter. We have to

start playing as a group.

”We need to grasp it here, need to play with some desperation.

That’s the biggest key right now.”

McDonagh and Stepan scored in New York’s 2-0 win over Nashville

on Nov. 23, and the Rangers will look to sweep the season series

with a Predators team having trouble finding the back of the

net.

Nashville (13-14-3) has totaled seven goals during its five-game

skid, and it allowed the first three in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to

Washington. Roman Josi and Eric Nystrom scored, while rookie Marek

Mazanec made 28 saves.

”We couldn’t find a way to score,” said defenseman Shea Weber,

who played for the first time since being hit with a puck Nov. 28.

”Same story, we’ve just got to find a way to put it in.”

Coach Barry Trotz is doing his best to help his team focus on

the task at hand.

“It’s making it very difficult,” Trotz said. “You can’t just

look at the big picture, better to just look at the next game. Win

the next game and you’ve got to work at it a game at a time. … We

just don’t have the finish we need right now.”

After Cam Talbot made 17 saves to earn the shutout in the first

meeting, the Predators likely will have to contend with Henrik

Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers.

Lundqvist who signed a seven-year, $59.5 million contract

extension Wednesday, is just 2-3-1 with a 3.19 goals-against

average over his last six starts. He’s 4-2-0 with a 1.50 GAA in six

career outings against Nashville, which could counter with

Mazanec.

Mazanec, who made 32 saves in the first meeting, is 0-4-1 with a

3.42 GAA in his last five starts.

The Rangers have won the last three meetings with the Predators,

including the past two via shutout.