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Rangers' Girardi, McDonagh out vs. Islanders

Boyle returns to lineup when New York rivals meet in key division game

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

ISLANDERS (44-26-9) at RANGERS (45-26-9) 

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+2, NHL.TV

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers will be without defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Girardi left the 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday when he was hit into the end boards. Girardi, who has two goals and 15 assists in 74 games, is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

His status for the regular-season finale against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday is unclear.

"We'll see how he feels and go from there," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday after morning skate.

McDonagh, who injured his hand blocking a shot Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, is out the remainder of the regular season and will be re-evaluated after that. His status for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has yet to be determined.

Defenseman Dan Boyle, who was rested against the Lightning, returns to the lineup. Defenseman Brady Skjei, who was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, remain in the lineup.

"You never want to lose anybody [to injury], but everybody always wants more ice time, to play more and this is an opportunity," Boyle said. "Again, you don't want to go out without guys you've battled hard with all year, but it's an opportunity that a lot of guys want."

Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan skated Thursday morning and is likely to return to the lineup after injuring his leg blocking a shot in the 5-2 win against the Lightning on Monday. He missed the 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

The status of forward Cal Clutterbuck (undisclosed) and defenseman Brian Strait (upper body) is uncertain.

Clutterbuck, who didn't play against the Capitals, was on the ice for extra work Thursday. Strait was injured against Washington.

The Islanders are already without top defenseman Travis Hamonic and No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak. Center Mikhail Grabovski remains out long-term and has not begun skating, according to coach Jack Capuano.

The Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division at 99 points. The Islanders, who are the first wild card from the Eastern Conference, trail by two points in the division.

"Obviously, it's a big game for many reasons," Islanders center John Tavares said. "Some things against these guys you can kind of throw out the window. We just have to go out there, enjoy the rivalry and what these games mean."

Here are the projected lineups:

ISLANDERS

Frans Nielsen - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Nikolay Kulemin

Matt Martin - Brock Nelson - Anders Lee

Eric Boulton - Casey Cizikas - Steve Bernier

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan- Ryan Pulock

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Christopher Gibson

Injured: Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Travis Hamonic (lower body), Adam Pelech (upper body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body)

Scratched: Shane Prince, Scott Mayfield

RANGERS

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Eric Staal - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Viktor Stalberg

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Marc Staal - Dylan McIlrath

Brady Skjei - Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Injured: Dan Girardi (upper body), Ryan McDonagh (hand)

Scratched: Oscar Lindberg

Status report: Hayes, a healthy scratch Tuesday, replaces Oscar Lindberg on the third line. … Capuano said some decisions on his lineup will come right before the game. … With three games in four nights, Capuano said he may try to rest some of his "banged-up" players. "I'm going to do what is best for our team," he said.

Who's hot: Brassard has seven points in his past nine games and 12 in the past 15. … Kreiser has five goals and three assists in his past six games. … Tavares has consecutive three-point games, and has 10 points in his past five.

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