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Devils' Carter returns against rival Rangers

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have an opportunity to inch one step closer to the second of the Eastern Conference's two wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET, MSG, MSG PLUS).

The Devils enter the game against their Metropolitan Division rival trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets by five points for the second wild-card spot with eight of their remaining 12 regular-season games at home. The Blue Jackets travel to Uniondale, N.Y., on Sunday for a matinee against the New York Islanders. The Devils are seven points behind the Rangers with a game in hand.

The Devils have won three of the previous four meetings against the Rangers and are expected to have fourth-line left wing Ryan Carter back in the lineup. Carter missed the past three games with an upper-body injury but was skating with usual partners Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier during the morning skate Saturday. Left wing Tim Sestito, who on Monday was recalled from Albany of the American Hockey League, is out with an upper-body injury.

"It will be good to get him back," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of Carter. "We'll need that line's energy against these guys. They've had a history of playing well as a line against the Rangers and we'll need that."

Carter has three goals, four points and 30 penalty minutes in 19 games against the Rangers and is looking forward to returning to the lineup.

"As I've said before, in terms of rivalry and passion, I haven't been involved in one like the Devils-Rangers since probably high school," he said. "To have one at the NHL level makes it easy to get up for these games."

DeBeor opted for seven defensemen in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, and it paid off despite the fact Sestito's injury in the first period left the Devils with 10 forwards. Based on the morning skate, defensemen Eric Gelinas and Peter Harrold, and forward Damien Brunner appear to be the healthy scratches against the Rangers.

"The Rangers are a four-line team and when we lost Sestito we were forced to go to three lines early," DeBoer said. "We'll need four lines [against the Rangers]."

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is the starter; he is 49-31-5 with 15 ties, nine shutouts, a 2.18 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 100 regular-season games against the Rangers.

The Rangers are coming off a 3-1 victory against the Blue Jackets on Friday and are 8-4-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season, including 5-1-0 on the road.

There were five players taking the option to skate on Saturday morning for New York, including goalie Cam Talbot, defensemen Raphael Diaz and Justin Falk and forwards Ryan Haggerty and Daniel Carcillo. Rangers assistant coach Benoit Allaire ran the workout.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who earned his 27th victory of the season against the Blue Jackets on 25 saves, is expected to start. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault should make that official at 5 p.m. during his scheduled pregame meeting with the media.

There's a chance Vigneault may replace defenseman John Moore, who sustained an upper-body injury in the first period Friday, with Raphael Diaz. Diaz, who was acquired by the Rangers from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round draft pick on March 5, has yet to play for the Blueshirts this season.

Lundqvist is 25-9-6 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and five shutouts in 40 games against Brodeur. In four games against the Devils this season, he is 1-2-1 with a 3.51 GAA and .849 save percentage.

Here are the projected lineups for the Rangers and Devils:


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Brad Richards - Carl Hagelin

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk, Daniel Carcillo, Ryan Haggerty

Injured: John Moore (upper body)


Tuomo Ruutu - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Michael Ryder

Ryane Clowe - Jacob Josefson - Dainius Zubrus

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Mark Fayne - Andy Greene

Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Peter Harrold, Damien Brunner, Eric Gelinas

Injured: Tim Sestito (upper body)

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