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Preview: Islanders at Rangers

Visitors continue playoff push at Madison Square Garden

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

ISLANDERS (33-26-12) at RANGERS (45-24-4)

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV

 

Islanders team scope

The New York Islanders trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. The Islanders and Maple Leafs each have 11 games remaining. "We got off to an inauspicious start, but I think we're a team built for [the playoffs]," coach Doug Weight said. "I believe in our leaders, the talent we have and our lineup throughout. You can talk until you're blue in the face. Results are what drive success and we have to have results. We have to find a way to win against a good hockey club tonight." The Islanders are 1-3-1 in their past five games, including a 3-2 overtime loss against the Blue Jackets at Barclays Center on Saturday. Weight said he liked the way they played in the second half of that game and he was thrilled with how practices went Monday and Tuesday. It was the first time the Islanders were able to have back-to-back practices at home since Feb. 27-28. "You can watch film and watch film and watch film, but things slip," Weight said. "We had a nine-game road trip where we came out and I felt we underachieved at 5-3-1 because we left some points out there. But you get home and you feel like, 'Thank God we got through that trip, we're in a great spot,' and you slip a little bit. You have to go through your structure. To me everything starts on your breakout and as far as your desperation of playing fast-paced hockey in your [defensive] zone creates more offensive time. We had to get back to those little things, those little details. The guys were splendid in practice the last two days. We'll see what that means. The pudding is served at 8 o'clock and we've got to bring it."

 

Rangers team scope

The New York Rangers have the first wild card in the Eastern Conference and are fourth in the Metropolitan Division, six points behind the third-place Blue Jackets. They are trying to end a six-game home losing streak (0-4-2). They haven't won at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 19. They are 7-1-1 on the road since a 4-2 loss to the Islanders at Barclays Center on Feb. 16. "I think our group is aware of what's going on here, but I think our big focus and a message we're trying to get across here is let's just go out and play the game that we've been playing on the road," center Derek Stepan said. "Let's find a way to put 60 minutes together as simple and as detailed as we've been on the road." The Rangers need to fix their penalty kill. They have allowed a power-play goal in seven consecutive games and are 65.2 percent (15-for-23) shorthanded during that span. "It hasn't been good enough," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Just like our power play went through a stretch there where the execution was poor and the decision making was poor, the same thing right now is happening on our penalty killing. I would say also we've got a few guys that are thinking about the wrong net. We've had success going the other way to get some chances, but the first part of good penalty killing is thinking about protecting the right net. We have a few guys right now who are not doing that, so there are a few guys that might see limited ice time in that area."

 

Islanders projected lineup

Andrew Ladd -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Anders Lee -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Joshua Ho-Sang

Brock Nelson -- Ryan Strome -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Adam Pelech

Calvin de Haan -- Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey -- Scott Mayfield

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Dennis Seidenberg, Alan Quine, Stephen Gionta

Injured: Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Shane Prince (lower body)

 

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

J.T. Miller -- Mika Zibanejad -- Rick Nash

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- Jesper Fast

Jimmy Vesey -- Oscar Lindberg -- Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh -- Marc Staal

Brendan Smith -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Adam Clendening

Antti Raanta

Magnus Hellberg

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Matt Puempel, Brandon Pirri

Injured: Henrik Lundqvist (hip), Dan Girardi (ankle), Kevin Klein (back spasms)

 

Status report

Vigneault said the Rangers might have some decisions with the lineup after the pregame warmup. He said they are injury related and they could impact the forward lines and the defense pairings. He wouldn't say who is at risk of not playing. Lundqvist, who will miss his seventh straight game, will play two of the three games on the Rangers' upcoming West Coast trip, which starts at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. … Weight said Seidenberg is not playing because he needs some extra rest and they have seven healthy defensemen. He also said Boychuk, who skated Wednesday, his third straight day on the ice, is getting closer to returning to the lineup. Bailey will play after missing practice Tuesday because of an illness.

 

Who's hot

Tavares has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in the past 18 games. Ho-Sang has six points (three goals, three assists) in the past seven games. … Lindberg has three points (two goals, one assist) in the past two games. Zuccarello has five points (two goals, three assists) in the past five games.

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