BLUE JACKETS (26-28-3) at RANGERS (35-16-6)
TV: FS-O, MSG
NEW YORK -- Center Brandon Dubinsky returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time this season to face his former team when the Columbus Blue Jackets play the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Dubinsky, who spent six seasons with the Rangers from 2006-07 through 2011-12 before being acquired in a multi-player trade that sent Rick Nash to New York in July 2012, has seven goals and 20 points in 30 games this season. In five previous games against the Rangers, Dubinsky has one goal and three points.
Dubinsky, who serves as an alternate captain, has 25 goals and 90 points in 135 games with the Blue Jackets. He has been playing a big role of late between Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson, producing four goals and six points in the past five games.
"[Dubinsky] is starting to get his legs and feel more comfortable and stronger," coach Todd Richards told the Blue Jackets website. "His wings are helping out because they're playing with some speed, but what I'm seeing from him now is down low; he's got the puck more on his stick, he's able to hold off checks and play big and strong like we've seen in the past."
Calvert, Dubinsky and Atkinson have combined for eight goals and 13 points since being united five games ago.
In addition to Dubinsky, former Rangers Artem Anisimov (2008-2012) and Fedor Tyutin (2003-2008) will also return to the ice at the Garden.
The Rangers, who have earned at least one point in seven of the past 10 games against the Blue Jackets dating back to October 2008, have received good play from goaltenders Cam Talbot and Mackenzie Skapski in the absence of injured Henrik Lundqvist (neck).
Talbot, the expected starter against the Blue Jackets, and Skapski are a combined 6-2-1 with Lundqvist out. Skapski was given the Broadway Hat following his NHL debut, a 3-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. He became the first Ranger goalie to win his NHL debut since Dan Cloutier in January 1998.
Rangers forward Rick Nash, who has four goals in the past five games, has 37 for the season. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 38 goals.
The Rangers, who are 5-0-2 in the past seven games, are second in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference with 35 wins and 76 points. The third-place Washington Capitals, who have played four more games than the Rangers, have 33 wins and 76 points.
Here are the projected lineups:
Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Alexander Wennberg
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Marko Dano
Corey Tropp - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Kevin Connauton - Jordan Leopold
Fedor Tyutin - Cody Goloubef
Scratched: James Wisniewski, Jack Skille
Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Boone Jenner (stress fracture in back), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Jeremy Morin (upper body), Ryan Murray (high ankle sprain), Dalton Prout (upper body)
Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Kevin Klein
John Moore - Dan Boyle
Scratched: Matt Hunwick
Injured: Henrik Lundqvist (neck), Jesper Fast (knee)
Status report: Fast, who will miss his eighth straight game, joined his teammates for practice on Sunday at the MSG Training Facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., in a non-contact jersey. He is expected to join the Rangers for full practice within the next few days, according to Northjersey.com. ... Moore will play as the sixth defenseman in place of Hunwick. … Lundqvist again skated on own Sunday and there is no exam scheduled for him this week, according to the Rangers. … Bobrovsky, who accompanied the Blue Jackets on their four-game Eastern Conference trip that ends Sunday, told The Columbus Dispatch that he is feeling better and hoping to return to the lineup at some point this week. Bobrovsky has missed the past 12 games with his injury sustained on Jan. 21 at Winnipeg.
Who's hot: Foligno has five goals and eight points in the past seven games. … Brassard is on a six-game point streak, producing eight assists over that span.