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Lundqvist expected to start for Rangers vs. Lightning

by John Kreiser

RANGERS (18-19-2) at LIGHTNING (23-11-4)


Last 10: New York 3-5-2; Tampa Bay 6-1-3

Season series: The New York Rangers make their second and final trip of the season to the Tampa Bay Times Forum; the teams meet again at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 14. The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Rangers 5-0 in their most-recent visit Nov. 25.

Big story: The Lightning played well enough to get two points against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, but had to settle for one in a 2-1 shootout loss. The Rangers would have gladly taken a point Friday night, but a late goal by Eric Fehr was the difference in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in the opener of a five-game trip.

Team Scope:

Rangers: After watching backup Cam Talbot play the past three games, Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in goal for the Rangers on Sunday. He'll be returning to the site of one of his worst nights of the season: The Lightning torched him for four goals in two periods when the Rangers came to town a month ago.

Talbot allowed one goal each in victories against the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs, but was beaten three times by the Capitals. Fehr's game-winning goal was a stoppable wrister from the right circle.

Lundqvist is trying to end a slide that has seen him allow three or more goals in seven straight games, one of the worst stretches of his career.

"The bottom line is I just need to stop the puck more," Lundqvist told the media Friday. "That's my goal. I can promise you I work as hard as I can. I just hope it's going to turn around."

Lightning: Tampa Bay has been without star center Steven Stamkos for nearly seven weeks, yet the Lightning are second in the Atlantic Division after getting a point in their shootout loss to the Canadiens. But coach Jon Cooper was thinking about the point his team didn't get Saturday night, rather than the one it earned -- especially with the quick turnaround against a team that had the night off.

"We did leave one [point] on the table, and this is a team we are battling with in the division, so it makes tomorrow night all the more important," Cooper said. "It will be tough for us with the quick turnaround. [The Rangers] are probably resting in the hotel right now. We will have to find a way."

Who's hot: Rangers forward Carl Hagelin scored a shorthanded goal against Washington and has three goals in New York's past five games. … Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis had the Lightning's lone goal in regulation against Montreal, extending his point streak to six games.

Injury report: The Rangers are without forward Ryan Callahan (knee) and defenseman Marc Staal (concussion), though both are skating. Another defenseman, Anton Stralman, left early in the game at Washington with an undisclosed injury and isn't expected to play; the Rangers called up Conor Allen from Hartford of the American Hockey League. … In addition to Stamkos (broken right tibia), the Lightning have been without defensemen Keith Aulie (upper body), Eric Brewer (upper body), Brian Lee (knee) and Sami Salo (undisclosed). Forward Ryan Malone (lower body) is also out.

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