NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 1st (All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (42-30-4) at Vancouver Canucks (34-31-11), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Alain Vigneault hopes to lead the New York Rangers to their seventh win in eight games when the head coach returns to Vancouver on Tuesday to face the Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Tuesday's matchup is the second between the Canucks and Rangers since the teams essentially swapped head coaches in the offseason, with Vigneault taking over the Rangers and John Tortorella filling the Canucks' vacancy after both were fired from the opposite posts.
New York hosted Tortorella and the Canucks on Nov. 30 and recorded a 5-2 victory, giving the Blueshirts wins in three straight meetings in this series. The Rangers last visited Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2011, when Tortorella helped the club notch a 4-0 win and halt a five-game skid at Rogers Arena.
Vigneault led the Canucks to 30-or-more wins in six straight seasons before the lockout-shortened campaign ended that streak in 2013. He also got Vancouver to within one win of the franchise's first Stanley Cup title in the spring of 2011, only to lose a home Game 7 to the Bruins.
This season, Vigneault has the Rangers in second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. The top three teams in each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Tortorella's Canucks are five points out of last playoff spot in the West with only six games remaining on their regular-season schedule. Tortorella led the Rangers to the playoffs in four of five seasons, but was only able to get the club past the second round once, when the Blueshirts lost to New Jersey in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.
The Rangers had a five-game winning streak snapped Friday in Calgary before rebounding the following night with a 5-0 rout in Edmonton. Cam Talbot stopped 26 shots for his third shutout of the season as New York dominated the Oilers at Rexall Place.
Mats Zuccarello had two goals and an assist, while Rick Nash scored twice and Derrick Brassard also scored for the Rangers.
"On some nights you need some bounces and we got a couple tonight," Vigneault said.
New York improved to 24-14-0 as the road team this season with Saturday's win. The club will complete a four-game trip when it visits Colorado on Thursday.
The Canucks enter Tuesday having lost two straight on the heels of a three- game winning streak.
After losing 3-2 in overtime at Colorado on Thursday, Vancouver was handed a 5-1 loss by visiting Anaheim when it opened a five-game homestand on Saturday. The regulation loss dropped the Canucks to 18-12-6 at Rogers Arena.
Brad Richardson scored the only goal on Saturday for the Canucks, who had a four-game points streak snapped (3-0-1). Eddie Lack gave up five goals on just 21 shots.
"Every loss now is tough because we need wins, we need points," said Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin.
The Canucks are five points behind Phoenix for the second of two wild card spots in the West, while Dallas is only one behind the Coyotes. Phoenix hosts Winnipeg on Tuesday and the Stars are scheduled to visit Washington.
The Coyotes hold two games in hand over Vancouver, while Dallas has played one less game than the Canucks.
Henrik Lundqvist expects to start in net Tuesday for the Rangers. He is 2-3-0 with a 2.50 goals against average and .926 save percentage in five career games against Vancouver.
The rookie Lack's only career appearance against New York came in relief of Roberto Luongo in the 5-2 setback on Nov. 30. He surrendered two goals on 14 shots and did not take the loss.
04/01 10:45:19 ET