Series (Game 3 of 4)

New York leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, November 27th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 19th
Game 3: Sunday, February 14th
Game 4: Friday, April 2nd

Lightning 2

(26-24-11, 63 pts)

Rangers 5

(28-27-7, 63 pts)

1:00 PM ET, February 14, 2010

Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

1 2 3 T
TB 2 0 02
NYR 0 4 15

E. Christensen (Rangers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

H. Lundqvist (Rangers - G): Saves: 27, Save Pct.: .931

V. Prospal (Rangers - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Lightning-Rangers Preview


The New York Rangers won their last contest with two key contributors out for most of that game. They might face the same challenge on the final day before the Olympic break.

The Rangers could be without star Marian Gaborik and top scoring defenseman Michael Del Zotto as they try for a fourth consecutive home victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

With the NHL's two-week hiatus to begin Monday, New York (27-27-7) would like to go into the break on a positive note as it tries to move into playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers got the weekend off to a good start with a 3-2 overtime win at Pittsburgh on Friday. New York won despite Del Zotto leaving with an early abdominal laceration and leading scorer Gaborik limited to six shifts before sitting with a cut on his right thigh that forced him to miss a 2-1 loss to Nashville on Wednesday.

"The playoffs have already started for us, we have to start winning," said New York's Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves. "A big part of the game is to be focused. Whatever happens during the game, you can't let that affect us -- if a guy can't play for us, all the guys have to step up even more."

Regardless if Gaborik (35 goals, 34 assists) and Del Zotto (26 points) play, recently acquired forward Olli Jokinen needs to continue to play well. Jokinen, who scored the winner Friday, has two goals with three assists in five games since being traded from Calgary earlier this month.

"I think he's been playing OK for us but... OK isn't good enough because we're not winning," said Rangers coach John Tortorella, whose team has lost eight of 11. "Hopefully (scoring the game-winner) will give him some confidence."

Jokinen has 13 goals on the season, and nine with eight assists in his last 12 games against the Lightning.

Vinny Prospal and Brandon Dubinsky scored Friday for the Rangers, and each had a goal with an assist in an 8-2 home win over Tampa Bay on Jan. 19. Gaborik had four assists in that contest.

Lundqvist, who'll try to lead Sweden to a second straight Olympic gold medal, made 21 saves in that game to improve to 7-1-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average versus the Lightning at MSG.

Enforcer Jody Shelley could make his Rangers' debut after being acquired in a trade with San Jose on Friday. The 34-year old had three assists while recording 78 penalty minutes in 36 games for the Sharks.

Martin St. Louis has four assists in two games against the Rangers this season, and extended his points streak to nine games after adding two assists in a 5-4 road loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.

St. Louis has nine goals with seven assists during that span, and Steven Stamkos is riding a 12-game points streak (nine goals, 12 assists). The Lightning, though, have lost two in a row since a season-high four-game winning streak.

"We are very disappointed," St. Louis said of the Lightning (26-23-11), who are two points ahead of the Rangers.

Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves versus the Islanders, but has allowed nine goals in his last two starts. He's 0-3-0 with a 5.60 GAA in his last five games against the Rangers.

Mike Smith made 26 saves in the Lightning's 5-1 home win over the Rangers on Nov. 27.