NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 13th
(All times Eastern)
NY Rangers (20-16-4) at NY Islanders (21-16-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Rangers and Islanders will meet in a game with serious
playoff implications, as the New York clubs battle Saturday at Nassau Coliseum
in the biggest contest to hit this rivalry in quite some time.
The Rangers enter Saturday tied with Winnipeg at 44 points for the last
playoff seed in the East, but have two games in hand over the Jets. The
Islanders, meanwhile, are two points ahead in seventh place.
This showdown on Long Island is the fourth and final scheduled meeting of the
season between these Atlantic Division rivals. The Rangers are 2-0-1 against
the Isles in 2013 and have won three of four and six of the last eight games
in this series.
The Isles lost a 2-1 overtime decision when the teams met at the Coliseum on
March 7, but the Rangers have lost three of the last five meetings on the
The New York teams have rarely been good at the same time over the last few
decades and they haven't faced each other in the playoffs since 1994, when the
Rangers swept the Isles in the opening round en route to the franchise's last
Stanley Cup title. Saturday's contest could mark the start of an exciting new
beginning for this old rivalry.
"What more could you ask for?," said Rangers winger Rick Nash after practice
on Friday. "Both teams are desperate for points. It's going to be a battle.
It's fun to play in games that mean a lot, not only for the points, but for
the rivalry, as well. It's going to be a fun night."
The Islanders come into Saturday's battle as the hotter team, having won three
straight and posting an 8-1-1 mark over their last 10 outings. The Blueshirts,
meanwhile, have won two of three and are 5-1-1 to begin April after ending
last month with four losses in five tilts.
The Isles matched a season high with their third straight win on Thursday, an
impressive 2-1 regulation victory at Boston. Josh Bailey netted a pair of
goals to back a 30-save effort from Evgeni Nabokov in the triumph at TD
Garden. Mark Streit assisted on both of Bailey's tallies in the win.
"Our team is playing hard," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "You get
rewarded when you play hard and play within the team concept. We gave up the
one power play goal where we were running around, but the effort is there
The Islanders are playing two straight on home ice, a stretch that will
concluded the club's regular-season home slate. Capuano's team is 9-11-2 at
the Coliseum and will finish its schedule on a five-game road trip. That could
actually benefit the Isles, who have a solid 12-5-2 mark as the away team in
The Rangers are playing five of their last eight games on the road, but
today's contest is the club's only remaining game with a team that is
currently ahead of them in the East standings.
The Blueshirts recently split a home-and-home set against Toronto, losing
Monday's road portion before taking a shootout on Wednesday at MSG. Mats
Zuccarello scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers a 3-2
victory over the Maple Leafs.
Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh each recorded a goal and an assist in
regulation to help the Rangers bounce back from a 4-3 setback to the Leafs.
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 23 saves before turning back all three Toronto
skaters in the deciding phase.
"I'm happy they grinded away and found a way," Rangers head coach John
Tortorella said of his team. "It's a good team we were playing, but I'm happy
they found a way to get two points."
The Rangers, who will visit Philadelphia in their next game on Tuesday, are
7-10-2 as the guest this season compared to a 13-6-2 home record.
04/13 10:16:25 ET