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Preview: Rangers at Blue Jackets

Columbus plays first game since 16-game winning streak ended; New York without Rick Nash, Marc Staal

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

RANGERS (27-13-1) at BLUE JACKETS (27-6-4)

7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG 2, NHLN, NHL.TV


Rangers team scope

The New York Rangers play their last game before an NHL mandated five-day break and will be without forward Rick Nash (groin) and defenseman Marc Staal (upper body) against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nash, the Blue Jackets' career scoring leader (289 goals, 547 points), will miss his eighth straight game. "I still feel it a little bit out there so we figured four days or whatever it is, five days off, will help," Nash said after practice on Friday. "It's definitely better so it's going in the right direction. The bye week comes at a perfect time for me." Nash has 13 goals and 20 points in 30 games. Staal will miss his second straight game. "He's day to day," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm anxious to see how he is after the break." Forward Mika Zibanejad, who sustained a broken fibula on Nov. 20, likely will rejoin the Rangers after the break. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh looks forward to playing the Blue Jackets in Columbus' first game since a 16-game winning ended with a 5-0 loss at the Washington Capitals on Thursday. "I'm sure they're going to try and respond back with a good game, especially at home," he said. "We've got continue to have that right mindset of competing and having good execution with and without the puck."


Blue Jackets team scope

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will rest goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who won 14 games during the winning streak. Curtis McElhinney (2-0-2, 1.90 goals-against average, .939 save percentage) will start with Bobrovsky expected to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. "We have to manage our goaltending," Tortorella said. "I don't think [Bobrovsky] has been overworked by any means." During the winning streak, McElhinney made 32 saves in a 3-2 shootout win at the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 3 and 44 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 20. All four of his starts have gone beyond regulation time. "When it's his call, he's played really well," Tortorella said. The 16-game winning streak, an 18-game point streak (17-0-1) and an eight-game road winning streak, all Blue Jackets records, were ended by the Capitals. Columbus has won eight straight games at Nationwide Arena.


Rangers projected lineup

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- J.T. Miller

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey -- Oscar Lindberg -- Jesper Fast

Nicklas Jensen -- Marek Hrivik -- Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh -- Brady Skjei

Nick Holden -- Dan Girardi

Adam Clendening -- Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: None

Injured: Marc Staal (upper body), Rick Nash (groin), Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula), Matt Puempel (concussion-like symptoms)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Scott Hartnell -- Lukas Sedlak -- Sam Gagner

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Markus Nutivaara -- Ryan Murray

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Dalton Prout, Markus Hannikainen

Injured: David Clarkson (lower body)


Status report

Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich (back) was sent to Hartford of the American Hockey League on Friday for a conditioning assignment. The Rangers did not skate Saturday morning.


Who's hot

Miller has three goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. ... Kreider has eight goals and two assists in his past eight games. ... Holden has four goals and one assist in his past five games. ... Hayes has two goals and seven points in five games. … Atkinson has 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in his past 14 games. ... Foligno has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in seven games. ... Wennberg has eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven games. ... Saad has eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games. ... Jones has four points (two goals, two assists) in five games.

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