NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 18th
(All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (13-23-6) at New York Rangers (21-17-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will try to get their playoff push
back on track when they host the lowly Florida Panthers in Thursday's tilt at
Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers enter Thursday tied with the Winnipeg Jets at 46 points for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the East. With six games remaining on its
regular-season schedule, New York does hold a game in hand over the Jets, who
host Carolina on Thursday evening.
New York allowed the Jets to forge a tie for the eighth spot on Tuesday, when
the Rangers lost a regulation decision in Philadelphia and Winnipeg notched a
shootout win over visiting Tampa Bay.
The New York Islanders also won a home test against Florida on Tuesday, moving
them three points ahead of the rival Rangers for the conference's seventh
seed. The Isles are visiting Toronto tonight.
Playing two of their last six games of the regular season against the Panthers
isn't likely to hurt the Rangers' postseason chances. Florida is dead last in
the NHL with 32 points and has surrendered a total of 15 goals during its
current three-game losing streak.
The Rangers, who will visit Florida on Tuesday, had won three straight against
the Panthers before dropping a 3-1 home decision when the clubs last met on
March 21. New York still has four wins in its last six home meetings against
Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason frustrated the Rangers in Tuesday's
setback, as he made 38 saves to keep New York from aiding its playoff chances.
It was just the second win for the Flyers in their last 13 games against the
Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello netted a goal apiece in the loss, while
Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 21 shots for the Rangers, who had won
"We just couldn't solve Mason," Rangers coach John Tortorella admitted. "We
developed some offense, we couldn't solve Mason."
Rangers forward Brian Boyle left in the first period of Tuesday's game with an
injured right leg and did not return. The big centerman is questionable for
New York is playing two of its next three games on home ice and is 13-6-2 at
MSG this season.
The Panthers have been outscored 15-5 during their three-game slide and were
dealt a 5-2 loss by the Islanders on Tuesday. Michael Grabner scored a pair of
goals to help the home team cruise to the easy win at Nassau Coliseum.
Marcel Goc finished with a goal and an assist and Dmitry Kulikov netted a
power-play tally for Florida. Jacob Markstrom stopped just 13-of-18 shots
before being removed early in the second period in favor of Scott Clemmensen,
who turned back all 13 chances he faced.
"It's never fun to get pulled as a goalie," Markstrom said afterward.
"Anybody's that's been a goalie and been pulled, it's embarrassing. It's
Florida is 6-13-1 as the visiting team this season and is playing the second
part of a four-game road trip on Thursday.
04/18 10:50:43 ET