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Brassard: Rangers-Islanders rivalry fun for players

by Staff

New York Rangers center Derick Brassard joined NHL Live to preview their Metropolitan Division showdown against the New York Islanders on Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TVA, SN1 ,SNO, MSG 2, MSG+).

The Rangers are 1-3-0 against the Islanders this season but won the last game 6-5 on Feb. 16 after overcoming three two-goal deficits.

"I think our rivalry against the Islanders is actually fun for the players and I think for the fans," Brassard said. "It's not a rivalry that's bloody and we're trying to kill each other out there. I think it's really good hockey. They have a good team and so do we. It's a lot of fun playing in those games.

"We were down 2-0 in the first period in the last game there and we found a way to come back and get a win. Since then we've been playing some really good hockey. I think [Tuesday] it's going be another great game against them. We know how important points are in the standings."

Brassard's game-winning goal in overtime Sunday defeated the Chicago Blackhawks to give the Rangers points in 13 of their past 14 games (10-1-3). It was Brassard's first goal in 14 games and his third game-winner this season. The Rangers enter the game Tuesday winners of six of their past eight road games (6-1-1) and eight of their past 12 (8-3-1).

"We're just having fun here," Brassard said. "We don't put too much pressure on ourselves. I think that's something I noticed when I got to New York. The leadership group, the guys leading us every night, are playing some really good hockey and I think it's the culture on our team. We're just taking one game at a time and we try to improve every game. We want to peak at the right moment to go into the playoffs and be really hot."

Goaltending has been hot for the Rangers virtually all season. Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot each have five shutouts, and Talbot was named the NHL's Third Star for the week ending March 8 after going 2-0-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average, a .965 save percentage and one shutout. The Rangers are 11-2-3 since Lundqvist sustained a vascular injury and 10-2-3 behind Talbot.

"Our goaltending has been really good all year," Brassard said. "It doesn't matter if it's Henrik in there or Cam. I think those two guys are No. 1s. Right now Cam is our guy and he's been playing really well for us. Eventually Henrik is going to come back from his injury. That's very big for our team. We have two goalies that can jump in and win games and make a difference for us."

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