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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-4) at New York Rangers (17-18-2), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers will try to complete a rough homestand on a two-game winning streak when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers have a 2-4-2 record on a nine-game homestand, but the Blueshirts posted one of those two wins in Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Carl Hagelin broke a tie in the second period and New York cruised to the victory from there.
"We rolled four lines, each time playing very smart and simple," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault. "They were doing great things with the puck."
Cam Talbot made 24 saves for the Rangers in his first start since Dec. 2. Talbot is now 7-2-0 with a 1.67 goals against average on the season, but Henrik Lundqvist expects to get the start tonight.
Lundqvist is 12-7-4 with a 2.65 GAA in 23 career starts against the Maple Leafs. The former Vezina Trophy winner has struggled recently, posting just one win over his last seven outings (1-4-2).
The Rangers, who are just 7-10-2 on home ice this season, will play their next five games on the road after completing the homestand tonight.
The Maple Leafs lost for the third time in four games their last time out, dropping Saturday's shootout decision against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The 5-4 loss was also the sixth setback in eight games for Toronto, which went 1-1-1 during its recent three-game homestand.
Toronto overcame a 3-1 deficit after 20 minutes to grab a 4-3 lead in the third period before Detroit's Tomas Tatar potted the equalizer with 6:16 remaining in regulation.
"Obviously, we didn't have a very good first period," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "We score the first goal and then we basically stood around for the rest of the period and watched them do their thing."
Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk both scored during the shootout to lift the Red Wings to victory in a preview of the 2014 Winter Classic. Former Maple Leaf Jonas Gustavsson did not allow a goal in the shootout after making 19 saves through overtime for Detroit.
Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves in relief of James Reimer, who was pulled after the first period. Joffrey Lupul recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, while Dion Phaneuf, Cody Franson and David Clarkson also scored for the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs have lost nine of their last 10 road games heading into this evening's Original Six battle in Manhattan. Overall, Toronto is just 6-8-3 as the visiting club this season.
The Rangers have won two straight home meetings against Toronto, but the clubs have split the last six encounters at MSG. New York has taken four of five overall from the Leafs, who are facing the Rangers for the first time this season.
12/23 10:49:12 ET