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Rangers at Avalanche preview

New York tries to climb in East; MacKinnon out, Makar returns for Colorado, which can gain in Central

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

RANGERS (37-28-4) at AVALANCHE (41-20-8)

10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, MSG+, NHL.TV


The Game

Nathan MacKinnon will be out 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury and will not play when the Colorado Avalanche try to gain in the Central Division race against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

MacKinnon, fifth among NHL scorers with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games, was injured in the second period of a 3-1 loss at the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

The Avalanche, 8-2-2 in their past 12 games and 16-5-2 in their past 23, trail the St. Louis Blues by two points for the Central Division lead; the Blues play at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. 

Cale Makar will return for Colorado after missing five games with an upper-body injury sustained in a 3-2 win at the Nashville Predators on Feb. 29. The defenseman is second among NHL rookie scorers with 47 points (12 goals, 35 assists) in 56 games. 

The Rangers, 2-4-0 in their past six games following a five-game winning streak, are three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.


Players to watch

Rangers center Mika Zibanejad has 12 points (10 goals, two assists) in a five-game point streak and has scored at least one goal in 11 of his past 12 games.

Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz is 7-2-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in his past 10 starts.


They said it

"We're hard to play against when we skate, put pressure on guys in our zone, and anywhere really. We've proved that over the year." -- Rangers center Mika Zibanejad

"Nate's one of the best players in the world right now. Each and every night he makes a huge difference, so it's going to be different not having him, but for us it's next man up; someone has to step up." -- Avalanche center Tyson Jost on the loss of center Nathan MacKinnon


Rangers projected lineup

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Artemi Panarin -- Ryan Strome -- Jesper Fast

Brett Howden -- Greg McKegg -- Julien Gauthier

Brendan Lemieux -- Steven Fogarty -- Kaapo Kakko

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

Brendan Smith -- Jacob Trouba

Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo

Alexandar Georgiev

Igor Shesterkin

Scratched: Henrik Lundqvist

Injured: Filip Chytil (lower body), Micheal Haley (core muscle), Chris Kreider (fractured foot)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- J.T. Compher -- Valeri Nichushkin

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Tyson Jost -- Joonas Donskoi

Matt Nieto -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Martin Kaut

Logan O'Connor -- Vladislav Kamenev -- Mark Barberio

Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Pavel Francouz

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Kevin Connauton

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body), Matt Calvert (lower body), Nazem Kadri (lower body), Philipp Grubauer (lower body), Nathan MacKinnon (lower body), Mikko Rantanen (upper body), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

Fogarty was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League with Chytil, a forward, out. … Forwards Burakovsky, Calvert, Kadri and Rantanen each participated in the morning skate wearing a non-contact jersey. … Grubauer, a goalie, faced shots before the skate. … The Avalanche recalled Kaut from Colorado of the AHL.


Stat pack

Buchnevich has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in a six-game point streak. … Landeskog has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his past 12 games and needs two goals for 200 in the NHL.

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