Season Series: This is the second of six meetings between the fierce rivals. They last faced each other on Oct. 15, when the Islanders earned a 4-2 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum behind a hat trick from John Tavares.
Big Story: The Rangers and Islanders always provide quality entertainment when they face each other, but Tuesday features teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions. The Rangers are riding a six-game winning streak, during which time they've outscored the opposition by a margin of 23-9. The Isles, meanwhile, have notched one victory since they beat the Blueshirts on Oct. 15 and have scored only 29 goals in 14 games this season.
Rangers: The Blueshirts made it six in a row on Friday night when they cruised to a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. Dan Girardi and Brandon Dubinsky scored just 9 seconds apart during the third period for the Rangers, who received a 34-save performance from Henrik Lundqvist. New York now sits just two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Atlantic Division.
"I told him right after the game when we were celebrating, 'Great job keeping us there,'" Dubinsky said of Lundqvist. "He gave us a chance to have a period like that and make a difference. Both of our goalies have been rocks for us and have won games for us here and there. He kept us in it tonight and gave us an opportunity to break out a little bit and put some pucks in the net."
Islanders: The woes continued for the Isles on Sunday night at Vancouver. For the fourth time in their last six games, they allowed a goal on the first shot they faced. For the fifth time in 14 games this season, they scored 1 or no goals. The hope is that Nino Niederreiter will help reverse their fortunes, as the fifth overall pick from the 2010 NHL Draft will make his season debut Tuesday night. Niederreiter had scored goals in three straight AHL games before his conditioning stint with Bridgeport came to an end Sunday.
"We have to find the will to win," Isles coach Jack Capuano said after Sunday's loss. "We can talk a good game, the players can talk a good game, but we have to find a will to compete every night. At some point, if it doesn't, then our lineup's going to have to change and other guys are going to have to get an opportunity. But right now, you have to dig deep and find a way to win a hockey game."
Who's Hot: The Rangers' goaltending tandem of Lunqvist and Martin Biron has been spectacular. Lundqvist has won his last four starts while posting a 1.71 goals-against average and .941 save percentage along the way. Biron, a former Islander, has won three in a row while notching a 1.00 GAA and .961 save percentage.
Stat Pack: The Rangers have received 8 even-strength goals from their defensemen so far this season. The Islanders have yet to receive one. … Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will appear in his 300th NHL game Tuesday night. … The Islanders are 0-4-2 on the road and haven't won away from Nassau Coliseum since March 22 at Tampa Bay.
Puck Drop: "We've got to stay positive. We did some good things. We can't get discouraged. We've got to stick with it and stick with the plan. Hopefully things will start rolling for us." -- Isles winger PA Parenteau