NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, March 24th
(All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (34-26-11) at New York Rangers (39-29-4), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers helped their playoff odds by
posting a perfect record on a recent three-game road trip. The Blueshirts hope
to stay hot on Monday when they welcome the Phoenix Coyotes for a clash at
Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers posted wins in Ottawa, Columbus and New Jersey last week,
improving their impressive road mark this season to 23-13-0. New York will try
to carry that success home when it kicks off a two-game homestand on Monday,
but the Blueshirts have struggled at MSG this season, going 16-16-4 as the
Of the three recent road victories, the one over the Blue Jackets was the most
essential to New York's playoff cause. Columbus and the Rangers were tied for
third place in the Metropolitan Division heading into the game, but New York
grabbed the lead with a 3-1 triumph.
Columbus now has fallen four points behind the Blueshirts for the last of the
Metro's three automatic bids to the postseason, while Washington is three
points back of third place in the Metro. The Blue Jackets and Capitals are
both idle on Monday.
The Rangers also are one point behind Philadelphia for second place in the
Metro. The Flyers have two games in hand over New York and host Los Angeles on
Monday. Philly will visit MSG for a divisional showdown on Wednesday.
After downing the Blue Jackets on Friday, the Rangers earned a third straight
win Saturday against the rival Devils. Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 50th
career shutout, a new franchise record, to help the Blueshirts picks up the
2-0 win at Prudential Center.
Posting a 21-save effort for his fifth shutout of the season, Lundqvist passed
Ed Giacomin for the most shutouts in franchise history and helped the Rangers
win for a fourth time in the past five games.
Rick Nash scored halfway through the second period, and Derek Stepan added an
empty-netter in the final moments to seal the victory.
"We had a real emotional game last night and another one here tonight," said
Nash. "The best part about tonight was hearing the fans cheering for us. This
was a fun game."
Another victory on Monday would match New York's longest winning streak this
season, equaling a four-game run from Jan. 26-Feb. 4.
Phoenix, meanwhile, hopes to return to the win column tonight after being
denied a fourth straight win in Saturday's home test against red-hot Boston.
The Coyotes also are fighting for a postseason berth and enter Monday's action
with a two-point lead over Dallas for the second wild card spot in the West.
The Stars, who hold a game in hand over Phoenix, are set to host Winnipeg on
Even though the Bruins clinched a playoff spot on Friday, the club didn't let
up Saturday against the Coyotes. Boston trailed 2-1 heading into the third
period, but scored three unanswered goals over the game's final 20 minutes to
record its 12th straight victory.
Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in a losing effort for the Coyotes,
while Mike Smith stopped 24-of-27 shots.
"We let them hang around too much," said Doan. "We didn't play as well in the
third as we did in the first. Give them credit, they found ways to win a
The Coyotes begin a three-game road trip on Monday and also will visit
Pittsburgh and New Jersey during the swing. Phoenix is 13-14-8 as the guest
this season, but has won three of its last four road games.
Phoenix and the Rangers last played when they opened this season against each
other at Jobing.com Arena on Oct. 3. Smith turned aside 23 shots to pick up
the win, while Radim Vrbata recorded a hat trick to lead the offense.
Lundqvist was saddled with the loss after stopping just 28-of-32 shots.
The Coyotes halted a three-game slide in the series with that home victory in
October, but Phoenix has dropped four straight and 13 of its past 15 games in
the Big Apple.
Defenseman John Moore expects to miss a second straight game for the Rangers
after suffering a concussion in Friday's win over Columbus. New York forward
Derek Dorsett is questionable for Monday after sitting out Saturday with a
03/24 10:36:19 ET