RANGERS (36-13-5) at BRUINS (34-17-2)
TV: MSG 2, NESN (HD)
Last 10: New York 7-2-1; Boston 5-4-1
Season series: This is the second of four meetings this season. The Rangers took the first game in dramatic fashion on Jan. 21 as their leading scorer, Marian Gaborik, tallied with just under four seconds left in overtime for the 3-2 road victory.
Big Story: While the New York-Boston sports rivalry stays strong no matter where the respective teams are in the standings, Tuesday's game actually features the top two clubs in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers currently sit in first with 77 points, but the Northeast Division-leading Bruins (70 points) are still in the hunt for the conference lead. New York will try to extend its current winning streak to four games, while Boston seeks its third win in the last four games.
Rangers: New York has seemed to do everything right this season with the exception of its struggling power play. As of Monday, the Rangers' 14.4 percent success rate with the man advantage placed them above only Tampa Bay and Montreal in the East. But although the Blueshirts failed to capitalize on two opportunites in a 3-2 win over Washington on Sunday, the power play has steadily improved over the past few games. Prior to Sunday, the Rangers notched four power-play tallies in their two previous games.
Sunday's game against the visiting Capitals was played almost totally clean, with only four total penalties called, so the Rangers were able to rely on their even-strength success. Captain Ryan Callahan started the scoring in the first period with a highlight-reel backhander from the side of the net that found its way past goalie Michael Neuvirth. After the Caps' Alexander Semin tied it early in the second period, New York then responded with two unanswered goals, including an insurance tally in the third from tough guy Brandon Prust. It was Prust's first goal since Oct. 20, 2011.
"We played a really good game today," Prust told NHL.com on Sunday. "It was good to get that one goal. It's been a long time coming. Hopefully I'll get a few more here."
Bruins: Boston had a seven-game winning streak from Dec. 10-28, but has yet to win three games in a row since then. However, the lack of a huge hot streak has done little to hurt the B's playoff chances as they try for their second straight Northeast Division title.
The Bruins face a tough opponent in the Rangers before embarking on six-game road trip, so they'll want to duplicate their effort from this past Saturday when they defeated the Nashville Predators for a 4-3 comeback victory in overtime. Milan Lucic scored the game-winning goal with just over a minute left to play as the B's were on the power play and had goalie Tim Thomas pulled for the extra skater. The win helped Boston avenge its worst loss of the season: a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres this past Wednesday.
"We had a couple of good days in practice and it was hard-working," Brad Marchand said about the time between the loss to Buffalo and Saturday's win. "It reminded us again how we have to play."
Who's Hot: Callahan is in the midst of a three-game goal-scoring streak with 5 goals over that span. … Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron has 1 goal and 3 assists over his last four games.
Injury Report: Forward Ruslan Fedotenko (head) missed the last two games for the Rangers and remains questionable. Defenseman Michael Sauer (concussion) is still sidelined for New York. … Forward Nathan Horton (concussion) remains out indefinitely.
Stat Pack: Tuesday's game features the top two even-strength teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins score an average of 1.51 goals per every one given up at even strength, while the Rangers are right behind them with an average of 1.33 goals.
Puck Drop: The mark of a great team is its ability to bounce back from adversity. The Bruins certainly showed why they are the defending Stanley Cup champions by coming back and beating the Predators after the tough shutout loss to Buffalo.
"You never want to get down on yourself and start feeling sorry for ourselves and I think that’s when the pride kicks in," Lucic told NHL.com following Saturday's win. "It’s up to different guys at different times to step up and play big at key moments."