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Scrappy Senators must contend with Rangers

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 1:16 PM

RANGERS (16-13-3) at SENATORS (18-9-6)

TV: RDS, MSG, SNET-E

Last 10: New York 4-5-1; Ottawa 6-2-2

Season series: This is the third and final meeting between the teams. The Senators will go for the sweep after a pair of 3-2 wins earlier this season.

Big story: Everyone was waiting for the Senators to fade after losing so many key players to injuries. Instead, they appear secure in a playoff spot while the Rangers are the ones scrapping to remain in the top eight. They hold a two-point lead on the ninth-place New York Islanders, while the Senators are nine points clear of the line of demarcation.

Team Scope:

Rangers: The Rangers have done a good job against the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference this season, and they handled their business once again Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Rick Nash had two goals and Derek Stepan had four points in a 5-2 win against the Flyers. The Rangers are 12-3-2 against teams currently in the bottom seven of the East.

"It was big to get that first one," Nash said of his goal that opened the scoring, only the 12th time this season the Rangers have scored first. "It seemed like we calmed down, played a bit more easy once it went in and kind of stuck to the game plan."

Senators: Ben Bishop made the difference for the Senators on Monday, stopping 32 shots and three of four shootout attempts while his team generated just 14 shots in a 3-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils.

"It's certainly not our prettiest win," said defenseman Chris Phillips, who scored one of Ottawa's regulation goals. "At the end of the day, at the end of the season, that's a big two points for us. They're right on our heels in the standings."

Who's hot: Stepan has goals in consecutive games for the Rangers. … Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar has a goal and 14 assists in 12 games in March.

Injury report: The Senators received good news at practice Wednesday, as defenseman Jared Cowen (hip) skated and said he hopes to return prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Goaltender Craig Anderson (foot) also practiced, but won't be back Thursday.

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