Rangers look for repeat performance versus Devils (Dec 18, 2016)
For the second Sunday in a row, the New York Rangers host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.
Last Sunday, the Rangers blanked the Devils 5-0 in the first of four meetings this season. New York scored twice on the power play, twice at even strength and once shorthanded. Five Rangers scored and 12 players recorded at least one point.
"It's a team we've seen pretty recently so we kind of know what to expect from them (Sunday)," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "Anytime you play the Devils it's another tight-checking game. So, we have to make sure to take away their speed and skill to make it tough on them."
Antti Raanta started in goal for the Rangers last Sunday and stopped 19 shots to record his second shutout of the season, and second in a row last week. Whether he gets the starting nod again this Sunday hasn't been made public.
Coach Alain Vigneault did not name a starter following the Rangers' 2-1 shootout victory in Nashville on Saturday night in a game in which New York's No. 1 goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular, finishing with 30 saves while also denying both shooters he faced in the shootout.
Raanta had started four games in a row, allowing a total of three goals while winning three of four, before Lundqvist returned to the lineup Thursday and stopped 27 shots in a 2-0 road victory over the Dallas Stars.
"It was a pretty good test for us going on the road and getting two wins here," Lundqvist said. "It wasn't always pretty these past couple nights, but we found a way to get four big points on the road."
The Rangers won five of their last six games, and allowed two goals or fewer in all six. Saturday marked the 23rd time in 33 games this season, and the tenth time in the past 12 contests, that New York gave up two goals or fewer. The Rangers are 19-3-1 when allowing fewer than three goals this year.
Rick Nash scored for the second consecutive game since returning from a groin injury and has six goals in the last ten games he has played. Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello scored in the shootout for New York on Saturday.
The Devils close out a four-game road trip Sunday. New Jersey is riding a season-high five-game losing streak after Saturday's 3-1 setback in Ottawa.
"There were a lot of good things," goaltender Keith Kinkaid said of his team's play in Ottawa. "We'll adjust for (Sunday) and bring the same compete level."
Kinkaid stopped 28 of 30 shots Saturday, with Ottawa's third goal scored into an empty net.
Devils coach John Hynes would not say if Kinkaid or the team's No. 1 goaltender, Cory Schneider, would start against the Rangers on Sunday.
The Devils need to find a way to generate more offense if they hope to beat the Rangers. Over the last five games, New Jersey scored six goals, getting outscored 22-6 during the losing streak.
Defenseman John Moore, a former Ranger, scored New Jersey's goal Saturday, his career-high fifth on the season. Of the 41 goals scored by the Devils over their past 17 games, ten have come from the team's defensemen.
While the Devils play well on home ice this season (8-1-2), they are 4-11-4 away from the Prudential Center. That has had much to do with their recent struggles since the Devils play 19 of their 29 games in November and December on the road.
"You get into these things and you don't get out of it right away," Hynes told NorthJersey.com. "You get out of it by starting to play a little bit better and getting to your game. That is the challenge of the segment of the schedule we're in."