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Wednesday Night Rivalry

5 Reasons to watch Blackhawks-Rangers

Original Six opponents play for second time this season in Wednesday Night Rivalry game

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

The New York Rangers head back indoors when they play the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

The Rangers are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres in the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field on Monday. They are 5-2-1 in their past eight games and enter the night third in the tightly packed Metropolitan Division, four points behind the first-place Washington Capitals.

This is the Blackhawks' first game of 2018 and the last on a six-game road trip that has kept them away from United Center since Dec. 17. They are 1-3-1 after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on New Year's Eve.

Here are 5 reasons to tune in:

 

Henrik Lundqvist

Any doubts that Lundqvist is still among the NHL's elite goaltenders at age 35 have been put to rest by his performance during the past two months. After a slow start, he's 18-9-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He made 31 saves in the Winter Classic to get the win and a victory against Chicago will move him past longtime Blackhawks star Tony Esposito into sole possession of eighth place on the NHL's all-time wins list with 424.

 

Rangers looking for revenge

New York and Chicago played in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game on Nov. 15, with the Blackhawks scoring six goals in less than 20 minutes of playing time in the second and third periods for a 6-3 win. The Rangers appeared to have the game under control until Alex DeBrincat's shot snuck through Lundqvist with 52 seconds left in the second to tie the game 1-1 before Chicago scored five goals in the third. The Blackhawks have also won their past three games at Madison Square Garden.

Video: NYR@CHI: DeBrincat squeaks it by Lundqvist to tie it

 

Protecting the house

The Rangers will be playing their 40th game of the season and 25th at home, meaning that they will play 26 of their final 42 games away from Madison Square Garden. That puts a premium on winning at home, especially in the Metropolitan Division, where a bad week or two can send a team plummeting in the standings. New York is 15-6-3 at home but 6-7-2 on the road.

 

Patrick Kane

It's no surprise that Kane is Chicago's top scorer with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 38 games. More impressive is that he's averaged a point a game while playing with a variety of linemates. Kane's overtime goal gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 win at the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, their lone victory on the trip thus far. However, the Rangers have fared well against Kane during his NHL career; he has nine points (three goals, six assists) against them in 13 games.

Video: CHI@EDM: Kane dangles, stuffs home OT winner

 

Blackhawks goaltending

With starter Corey Crawford out with an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has made it clear to his players that they have to pick up the slack. But he's still looking for one of his backup goaltenders to step forward. Jeff Glass, a 32-year-old rookie, played the past two games after Anton Forsberg allowed five goals on 31 shots in a 5-2 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 28. Glass is 1-0-1 despite allowing seven goals in the two games, but he's done a better job of giving Chicago a chance to win. Still, the Rangers figure to have a big edge in goal no matter who plays in Crawford's absence.

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