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Leafs return home to host Rangers

by John Kreiser

RANGERS (46-21-7) at SABRES (33-34-8)


Last 10: New York 4-6-0; Toronto 3-6-1

Season Series: The teams are meeting for the fourth and final time this season, and the first since Jan. 14, when the Rangers won 3-0 in their last visit to Toronto. The Leafs won the first two games in New York.

Big Story: The Rangers hit the road for the first time in two weeks, and they may welcome the time away from home after ending a seven-game stretch at Madison Square Garden by getting whipped 4-1 by Buffalo on Friday night. The Leafs are back home after a 4-3 shootout win in New Jersey on Friday that helped wipe away the taste of poor performances against the Bruins and Islanders earlier in the week. 

Team Scope:

Rangers: New York is still on top in the East, but the Rangers looked anything like a first-place team against the Sabres, who shut them down offensively and scored four times on 26 shots against Henrik Lundqvist.

Though the Pittsburgh Penguins are coming up fast in the rear-view mirror, center Brian Boyle says the Rangers can't be worried about anyone but themselves.

"We just need to play how we need to play," said Boyle, who scored New York's only goal. "We didn't focus on (points) all year and we shouldn't now. Just focus on being the best team we can."

Maple Leafs: They couldn't hold 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but the Leafs did leave New Jersey with two points after beating the Devils in a shootout, giving new coach Randy Carlyle something to smile about after his team was outscored 13-2 in the losses to the Bruins and Islanders.

"We're a hockey club that is still trying to find our way," Carlyle said. "We have got to string some consistency together. I wouldn't say tonight is a tape that we're going to frame or anything."

Who's Hot: Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has three points in his last three games and has scored a career-high 27 goals. … Toronto rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner continues to impress -- he has five points in his last five games. 

Injury Report: Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello broke his left wrist in the first period of Friday's game. Defenseman Steve Eminger is out with an undisclosed injury. … Toronto is without forwards Clarke MacArthur (upper body), Matt Frattin (lower body), Nikolai Kulemin (broken finger) and Joffrey Lupul (separated shoulder).

Stat Pack: The Rangers' .669 winning percentage through 74 games is their best at this point of the season since they were 47-20-7 (.684) in 1972-73. … New York is 18-2-3 when leading after the first period and 28-0-3 when leading after the second.

Puck Drop: Both teams are playing the second half of a back-to-back, but few teams have been as good at it as the Rangers. New York has a combined record of 16-4-5 in back-to-back games this season, going 8-2-3 (3-1-0 at home, 5-1-3 on the road) in the first game and 8-2-2 (6-0-0 at home, 2-2-2 on the road) in the second. Since 2009-10, New York is 29-10-4 in the second game of back-to-backs, including 14-7-3 on the road.

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