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Canucks-Rangers Preview @NHLdotcom
Canucks-Rangers Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (18-9-2) at New York Rangers (20-8-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

Jaromir Jagr is on pace for his best offensive season in a decade. He tries to keep it up against an opponent he's dominated when the New York Rangers host the Vancouver Canucks.

Jagr had a goal and three assists in Saturday's 5-4 overtime victory at St. Louis, his first four-point performance since Feb. 4, 2003. His 50 points lead the NHL and he's on pace for 128, which would be his most since a career-high 149 for Pittsburgh in 1995-96.

Jagr, who has 12 goals and 19 assists in 20 games against Vancouver, assisted on Martin Rucinsky's winning goal Saturday. Rucinsky's shot from just inside the blue line hit the end glass and bounced in off the back of St. Louis goalie Patrick Lalime, who was released on Monday.

"That was ugly," Jagr said. "That was the worst goal I've ever seen."

Rucinsky, who had two goals and an assist, said the Rangers were lucky to come out on top.

"We didn't play well," he said. "We've been playing a lot better than this. Fortunately we came out with the two points. We'll take that."

With victories in nine of their last 11 games, the Rangers have opened up a six-point lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. New York hasn't made the playoffs since 1996-97.

Vancouver won for the third time in four games Friday, beating Northeast Division-leading Ottawa 3-2 in a shootout. Daniel Sedin scored the winner, beating Senators goalie Dominik Hasek with a low shot to the stick side in the shootout's fourth round.

"It was a playoff atmosphere right to the bitter end," said Vancouver captain Markus Naslund, who scored in the first period for the Canucks' only power-play goal in 13 opportunities.

Vancouver is looking to end a three-game losing streak on the road in which it's been outscored 13-6. New York, meanwhile, has won five in a row at Madison Square Garden.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 12): Canucks - 38 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division. Rangers - 44 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 16 goals, 18 assists and 34 points; Wade Brookbank, 63 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 23 goals, 27 assists and 50 points; Michal Rozsival, 42 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 12): Canucks - Power play: 17 percent (34 for 200), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.4 percent (146 for 175), tied for 9th. Rangers - Power play: 16 percent (31 for 193), 19th. Penalty killing: 87 percent (182 for 209), 2nd.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Alex Auld (10-6-1, 2.61 GAA); Dan Cloutier (8-3-1, 3.17). Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist (12-4-3, 1 SO, 2.07); Kevin Weekes (8-4-1, 2.88).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 2, 2004; Rangers, 4-3. At New York, Jagr had a goal and an assist as the Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak to Vancouver.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 5-8-2 on the road; Rangers - 10-2-2 at home.

Associated Press
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