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National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, November 21st (All times Eastern)

New York Rangers (10-11-0) at Dallas Stars (11-7-2), 8:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers' offense was able to generate plenty of shots in Rick Nash's return to the lineup on Tuesday, but were unable to break out of their goal-scoring funk.

Nash and the Rangers hope for better luck on Thursday night when they begin a five-game road trip with a battle against the Dallas Stars.

After missing 17 straight games with a concussion, Nash made his long-awaited return in Tuesday's 2-1 home setback to the Boston Bruins. He had five of New York's 44 shots, but the Blueshirts still lost for the third time in four games.

They have been shut out once and held to four goals over that span.

"Yeah, I definitely felt better (in the second period)," said Nash. "Just the speed in the first period, first couple shifts, it was tough. But (I) found it and thought I created some chances and some offense."

Derick Brassard had New York's lone goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves, shouldering some of the blame afterwards.

"We're not scoring and you have to come up with the big saves and I didn't," said Lundqvist. "All of us are just not getting the job done."

That included forward Chris Kreider, who was unable to convert a penalty shot just over six minutes into the game.

After getting Nash back on Tuesday, head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to reinsert defenseman Michael Del Zotto back into the lineup tonight. The blueliner had been a healthy scratch each of the previous three games and has a goal and four points in 16 games this season with a minus-4 rating.

While New York is hitting the road, Dallas is set to play four of its next five games on home ice. The Stars will look to snap a three-game slide as the host and win at home for the first time since Oct. 24.

The Stars have posted a pair of perfect three-game road trips around a home loss to Chicago on Nov. 9, completing their most recent swing with a 2-1 decision over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Kari Lehtonen was strong with 42 saves in his club's sixth straight road win and also caught a break when a potential game-tying goal by Vancouver's Henrik Lundqvist was waved off due to incidental contact with the goaltender.

"On given nights your goaltender has to be big for you. (Lehtonen) was real big for us tonight," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said.

Rookie Valeri Nichushkin and Erik Cole both scored for the Stars.

Forward Ray Whitney is expected to be a game-time decision tonight after missing the last three games with a groin injury. There could already be a roster spot open for him as fellow forward Alex Chiasson left Wednesday's practice early after getting hit in the face by a puck.

Chiasson is third on the club with 12 points off five goals and seven assists, while Whitney has tallied a goal and seven helpers in 17 games.

The Stars have won four of their past six versus the Rangers, snapping a two- game series slide with a 1-0 win at New York in the most recent meeting on Dec. 13, 2011.

Lehtonen is 5-3-1 with a 2.54 goals against average in 11 career starts against the Blueshirts, while Lundqvist has split six career starts versus the Stars despite a 1.99 GAA.

11/21 10:50:05 ET

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