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Lundqvist starts for Rangers; Stars focused on defense

Dallas has eighth highest goals-against average in NHL

by Brian Hunter @brianhunternhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

RANGERS (35-20-6) at STARS (38-18-6)
    
TV: 4 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG, FS-SW
 
Season series:
New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan scored twice in the 6-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 5 at Madison Square Garden. Forward Rick Nash had three assists.

Rangers team scope: Forward Jesper Fast took a puck to the face and broke his nose at practice Friday, but coach Alain Vigneault said Fast is expected to be in the lineup as long as the bleeding is under control and he can breathe normally. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will get the start. "Hank is in a good place and playing well," Vigneault told the Rangers website. Lundqvist became the first goaltender in NHL history to reach the 30-win mark in 10 of his first 11 seasons when he defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Thursday. His next win will be the 370th of his career and will move him past Tom Barrasso into sole possession of 16th place in NHL history. Lundqvist ranks fourth in the NHL in wins this season. Nash, who hasn't played since Jan. 22 because of a bone bruise, had another MRI on Thursday and is approximately 7-10 days from starting lower-body workouts, Vigneault said. Forward Kevin Hayes has four goals and four assists in the past eight games.

Stars team scope: Dallas is coming off a 6-3 loss Thursday to the Winnipeg Jets in which the Stars gave up at least six goals in a game for the ninth time this season, most in the NHL. They allowed seven goals in their previous home game against the Boston Bruins. Their 2.84 team goals-against average is eighth highest in League, belying their first-place standing in the Central Division. "It's embarrassing," forward Jason Spezza said. "We've got to cut down our goals-against, we've got to help our goalies out, we've got to play better hockey." On the offensive side, Dallas averages 3.23 goals per game, second only to the Washington Capitals, who lead the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Stars' 200 non-shootout goals are first in the League. Spezza scored twice against the Jets and has three goals in his past two games. Forwards Jamie Benn (three goals, three assists) and Patrick Sharp (one goal, five assists) have four-game point streaks.

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