Senators, Rangers face off with eye on trade deadline (Feb 16, 2018)

February 16, 2018

OTTAWA -- Matt Duchene is doing his best to keep his left winger in Ottawa Senators colors.

While trade speculation has Mike Hoffman possibly on the move, he and Duchene have formed a fast and deadly duo, which was on display most recently in the Senators' 3-1 victory over Buffalo on Thursday.

Duchene's third assist of the night helped set up Hoffman's overtime winner.

"I think we have a great group in here and it's not for me to speculate and make decisions, but we're playing really well together," said Duchene, who now has seven goals and 19 points in his last 18 games, while Hoffman has four goals in his past six games. "There's a lot of things that could still happen, but we get along really well together off the ice, too."

Duchene and Hoffman will lead the Senators (20-27-9) into Saturday afternoon's game at Canadian Tire Centre against the New York Rangers.

Craig Anderson will be in goal as the Senators shoot for their sixth win in nine tries. Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for the Rangers.

It will be the second game in an Ottawa jersey for former Rangers winger Marian Gaborik, who had a goal and the other assist in his debut on Thursday. Gaborik was acquired on Wednesday from the Los Angeles Kings along with forward Nick Shore for defenseman Dion Phaneuf and center Nate Thompson.

Gaborik will continue to skate with Hoffman and Duchene on Saturday.

"He's just a good player that can make plays," coach Guy Boucher said of the 36-year old Gaborik. "He has always done that in his career, scoring big goals in big moments and we will put him with good players, where he has a chance to show his offensive side."

The Rangers (27-26-5) have lost their last two games, and continue to be in seller's mode as the trade deadline approaches.

New York's most available piece of trade bait is winger Rick Nash, who has eight goals in his last 14 games, but general manager Jeff Gorton is listening to all offers.

"I wouldn't say there's anything imminent, but at the same time you never really know, so I wouldn't want to give off any false signals," Gorton told The New York Post on Friday. "If I say 'no' and something comes through on the next phone call, it would seem like I'm trying to mislead people. We have a lot of balls in the air. It's hard to predict."

The game will be the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Rangers were the victors in a 3-0 final at Madison Square Garden Nov. 19, while the Senators prevailed 3-2 in Ottawa on Dec. 13.

The Senators will be without winger Ryan Dzingel, who left the team for "personal family issues" on Friday.

Boucher said winger Bobby Ryan, who is out with a finger injury, could return to the lineup before the trade deadline.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said defenseman Mark Staal, who took part in his first practice on Friday since suffering whiplash, will need a few days to get back in game shape.

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