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Devils at Rangers preview

New York tries to snap early-season slump; goalie Kinkaid likely to make first start of season for New Jersey

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

DEVILS (3-1-0) at RANGERS (1-4-0)

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


The Game

The New York Rangers will try to end a two-game losing streak and end their early-season slump when they open a six-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

The Rangers lost 3-1 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and are off to their worst start since beginning the 2013-14 season 1-4-0 in Alain Vigneault's first season as coach. Backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is expected to make his first start for the Rangers after Henrik Lundqvist played against Columbus. He is 3-0-2 in his past five games against New Jersey and has allowed two goals or fewer in all five games.

Backup goalie Keith Kinkaid will make his season debut for the Devils, who will try to rebound after their first loss of the season, 5-2 against the Washington Capitals on Friday. Rookie center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, has one assist, nine shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in four games.


Players to watch

Defenseman Will Butcher, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract on Aug. 27, is tied for the Devils lead with six points (all assists) in four games. Butcher, who plays the point on the power play, has four points with the man-advantage.

Rangers forward Chris Kreider has three assists in five games. He had five points (three goals, two assists) in four games against the Devils last season. Kreider also led the Rangers in goals (27) and tied for the lead in points (32) at home last season.


They said it

"It was our first time facing adversity [against the Capitals] and we didn't do well. We'll think about it for a half hour and put it to bed against a hungry Rangers team." -- Devils left wing Taylor Hall

"It's a tough time for us right now. We're losing. I think we all have to stick together. I think this is when you get a character check. It's easy for guys to start pointing the finger and blaming, but good teams stick together in these times." -- Rangers right wing Rick Nash


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Pavel Zacha -- Kyle Palmieri

Marcus Johansson -- Nico Hischier -- Drew Stafford

Jesper Bratt -- Adam Henrique -- Jimmy Hayes

Miles Wood -- Blake Coleman -- Brian Gibbons

Andy Greene -- Steven Santini

John Moore -- Damon Severson

Will Butcher -- Dalton Prout

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Mirco Mueller, Ben Lovejoy, Stefan Noesen

Injured: Travis Zajac (pectoral muscle), 


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Rick Nash -- Kevin Hayes -- Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey -- David Desharnais -- J.T. Miller

Michael Grabner -- Paul Carey -- Adam Cracknell

Ryan McDonagh -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith

Marc Staal -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Ondrej Pavelec

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Tony DeAngelo

Injured: Jesper Fast (hip)


Status report

Neither team held a morning skate. … Stafford, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury will return to the lineup, replacing Noesen. Devils center Brian Boyle, who played five seasons with the Rangers (2009-14), continues to skate on his own. Boyle hasn't played in the regular season after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Sept. 19.


Stat pack

New Jersey is fifth in the NHL on the power play at 29.4 percent (5-for-17). The Devils are 3-5-1 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden since 2013-14. … Zibanejad has five goals, four on the power play, in five games. New York has killed off seven of eight opposition power plays in its past three games (87.5 percent).

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