NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, April 8th
(All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (19-15-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs (21-13-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Original Six foes will begin an important home-
and-home series on Monday when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York
Rangers at Air Canada Centre.
Toronto is trying to make the postseason for the first time since the spring
of 2004 and is currently fifth out of eight playoff seeds in the Eastern
Conference. The Rangers, who were the East's top seed heading into the 2012
postseason, are four points behind the Maple Leafs and tied with the rival New
York Islanders for the conference's final two playoff berths.
The Blueshirts have a game in hand to use over the idle Islanders on Monday.
New York enters this home-and-home having won three straight and six of its
last eight games against the Leafs, including a 5-2 home triumph in the only
meeting between the clubs so far this season on Jan. 26.
Although the Rangers have struggled to a 7-9-2 record on the road this season,
they have won their last four games in Toronto. The clubs will complete this
home-and-home, as well as their season series, in Wednesday's matchup in
New York has gained a point in four straight games and is 3-0-1 over that
stretch. The club earned a victory in its last trip to the ice, beating the
Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, on Saturday behind a strong performance from
goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 48-of-49 shots in the road triumph.
Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash all scored during a second-period
barrage that allowed Lundqvist's stellar effort to hold up for the win.
Stepan and Nash also notched an assist to support a season-high in saves from
Lundqvist. Ryane Clowe also added a helper to give him two goals and two
assists in three games since coming to New York in a trade with San Jose.
Brian Boyle finished off the victory with an empty-net tally right before the
final horn sounded.
"It was a great win, and Hank played great," Boyle remarked. "The big boys
made some big plays in the second period. And Hank? He's the King!"
New York had lost three straight on the road before earning the victory in
The Leafs, meanwhile, have won four of their last five games and are coming
off Saturday's victory in New Jersey. Tyler Bozak's third-period tally proved
to be the difference, as Toronto edged the Devils, 2-1, at Prudential Center.
Leo Komarov also lit the lamp, while James Reimer registered 27 saves for the
Leafs, who are two points ahead of idle Ottawa for fifth place in the Eastern
Conference. Toronto is six points in back of fourth-seeded Boston, which hosts
Carolina on Monday.
"It was a big game for us," Reimer remarked. "It kind of feels like a playoff
game, so it was good for us to get the win. I thought the boys played great."
Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul sat out Saturday's game with an upper body
injury suffered in Thursday's loss to Philadelphia. Lupul, who has 14 points
in 10 games during an injury-plagued season, did not travel with the team to
New Jersey and his status is day-to-day.
Toronto had won four straight on home ice before losing to the Flyers on
Thursday. The Leafs are 10-7-2 as the host this season and are playing three
of their next four games at home.
04/08 10:48:47 ET