Rangers-Devils Preview

Marian Gaborik’s scoring surge has the New York Rangers leading

the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Another meeting with the struggling New Jersey Devils may keep

it that way.

Gaborik attempts to find the net for a fourth consecutive game

when the Rangers visit the Devils on Tuesday night at the

Prudential Center.

Gaborik leads New York (42-15-7) with 32 goals and 58 points,

including five goals and three assists during the Rangers’ current

4-0-2 stretch. He has a goal in each of his last three games – his

longest such streak since netting seven during a five-game run Dec.

17-26.

The All-Star right wing’s success is one reason the Rangers have

an eight-point cushion on Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division,

and a one-point edge over Western Conference-leading Vancouver for

the Presidents’ Trophy.

Gaborik scored off a rebound Sunday in New York’s 4-3 home

victory over Northeast Division-leading Boston, currently the

second seed in the East 12 points behind the Rangers.

“He’s playing in traffic. He’s been played in traffic all year

long,” coach John Tortorella said of Gaborik. “I haven’t gone

through all of his goals, but a number of them are just banging

them in there. He’s made a concerted effort to work on the details

of his game offensively and defensively.

“I also have the faith that he’s going to do the stuff away from

the puck. I think he’s really worked at a lot of small things in

his game.”

Gaborik hasn’t had a point in the last two meetings with the

Devils after getting two goals and three assists in the first two

of the season. The teams have split the four games, with each

winning once in the other’s building.

Strong defensive play keyed the Rangers’ 2- 0 home win over New

Jersey on Feb. 27, as New York allowed a season-low 13 shots while

getting goals from Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan.

Callahan suffered a bruised foot while blocking a shot in that

meeting, and has missed all three games since. It’s unclear when

the captain will return.

Henrik Lundqvist, 7-1-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average and

two shutouts in his last nine starts, figures to be back in net for

New York after making 30 saves Sunday. He notched his

league-leading eighth shutout of the season versus the Devils last

week, and has won four of his last five visits to Newark while

posting a 1.19 GAA and one shutout.

Backup Marty Biron started the most recent meeting in New Jersey

on Jan. 31, making 26 saves through overtime in New York’s 4-3

shootout loss.

While the Rangers seem to be pulling away in the East, the

Devils (36-24-5) currently hold the sixth seed, two points behind

fifth-place Philadelphia and one ahead of Ottawa in seventh.

New Jersey fell to 1-4-1 in its last six games after Sunday’s

1-0 road loss to the New York Islanders. The Devils put 24 shots on

net but failed to solve rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson.

“Obviously, we have to get to the net more,” right wing David

Clarkson said. “Every game means everything with how close the

standings are. We can’t sit here and dwell. We have to get ready

for (the Rangers).”

The Rangers will probably be ready for Clarkson. He had 19

penalty minutes in last week’s matchup, including a misconduct and

a fighting major when he dropped the gloves against Brandon

Dubinsky.

Clarkson’s toughness has been accompanied by career highs of 25

goals and 37 points. He had one goal and one assist against the

Rangers on Jan. 31.

Devils points leader Ilya Kovalchuk (62) has failed to score a

goal in his last nine games, though he does have six assists in

that stretch.