Antti Raanta
Senators-Rangers Preview
Antti Raanta

Senators-Rangers Preview

Published Dec. 6, 2015 12:50 a.m. ET

One of Alain Vigneault's ideas while searching for a way to snap the New York Rangers out of their recent funk was moving star rookie Oscar Lindberg to the top line.

Lindberg may find himself in that group as the Rangers go for only their second win in seven games Sunday night against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden.

New York (17-7-3) averaged 3.40 goals during a 13-1-1 stretch only to follow it by losing five of six (1-4-1) behind 1.67 per game. The Rangers fell 2-1 to Colorado on Thursday, a day after losing by the same score on the road to the rival Islanders.

The struggles have Vigneault considering shaking up the lines, most notably having Lindberg center the top line with star right wing Rick Nash and left wing Chris Kreider.


Lindberg has been a pleasant surprise with 10 goals, tying Arizona's Max Domi for second in the NHL among rookies and one behind Detroit's Dylan Larkin.

"I'm not 100 percent sure we're going to go this way (Sunday), but I do think Oscar has played well and he seems to feel more and more comfortable with more responsibilities," Vigneault said. "If we do decide to go this route, those are two pretty good players that might be a good fit for him."

Lindberg has three goals in five games, including New York's lone tally against the Avalanche. However, Nash hasn't scored in four games after finding the net six times in the previous four, while Kreider has one goal in his last 10.

Kreider, though, has six points in his last five meetings with the Senators (14-7-5) after scoring four times in the past four. That includes a first-period goal in a 2-1 shootout win at Ottawa on Nov. 14.

Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves and turned aside two attempts in the tiebreaker in that contest. He owns a 2.13 goals-against average in his last 13 meetings at MSG, including the playoffs, but has just a 3-8-2 record.

Lundqvist, who is 8-2-1 with a 2.03 GAA at home this season, should be back in net after backup Antti Raanta made 16 saves Thursday.

The Senators, 7-3-1 on the road, have won six of their last eight overall while averaging 3.88 goals.

Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 32 points and has 20 over the past 12 games, including three in each of the last two - both wins. His third point Saturday was an overtime goal to cinch a 3-2 win over the Islanders. That came after he assisted on Mike Hoffman's tying goal with 37 seconds left in regulation.

"We found a way to get it tied late and the guy on my team that hates 3-on-3 the worst enjoyed it," coach Dave Cameron said.

Karlsson, who won his second Norris Trophy last season, has four points in his last 12 against the Rangers, including the 2012 playoffs, but did score against them last month.

Hoffman has just one goal in seven career meetings with New York, but he enters this one with a team-leading 14 after scoring once Saturday. The left wing has nine goals over the past seven games.


Antti Raanta
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