W2W4: Rangers vs. Isles

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
3:08
PM ET
At a glance: Old, bitter rivals face off at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night when the New York Rangers host the New York Islanders in the clubs' first of three meetings in an 11-day span.

The divisional clash features two teams on the upswing. The 27-21-3 Rangers have won three straight to climb into second place in the Metropolitan Division standings. And though the Islanders remain mired in last place in the division, they have won seven of their last 10 games and sit just five points out of a playoff position.

Big news: In a surprising development Tuesday morning, it was revealed that Henrik Lundqvist will miss the game with an illness. Backup netminder Cam Talbot, who has been terrific in relief for the Rangers this season, will start in goal for the Blueshirts. 30-year-old journeyman nemtinder David LeNeveu will back up Talbot Tuesday night, his first NHL appearance since the 2010-11 season when he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. LeNeveu was released from his minor-league contract with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack Tuesday, then subsequently signed to a two-way NHL deal.

Still fighting: The Islanders have not given up hope on climbing back into the playoff picture, and given the mediocrity of the Eastern Conference, an ascent in the standings is not implausible. The team recently recorded four wins on a six-game road trip and has a lengthy stay at home from now until the Olympic break, a span in which it will play eight of nine games in the New York area. The Islanders have also been getting clutch contributions from their top performers in John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Both players rank in the top 15 in the league in scoring, with Tavares second (59 points) and Okposo tied for 11th (49 points). Both players notched power-play goals and tallied in the shootout in Monday's 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Special-teams matchup: Keep an eye on the Rangers' seventh-ranked power play, which has recorded a goal in seven of the past eight games. The much-improved unit will face a struggling Islanders penalty-killing group that ranks last in the league with a 76.0 percent success rate.

Watch out: Two players to watch in Tuesday's action: Rangers winger Rick Nash is on a tear with seven goals in the past eight games. Meanwhile, Islanders rookie defenseman Calvin de Haan has recorded eight points in his last eight games.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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