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game preview

Rangers at Panthers preview

Florida goes for eighth straight home win; Kreider questionable for New York

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

RANGERS (30-32-6) at PANTHERS (33-25-7)

7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG, NHL.TV


The Game

The Florida Panthers will look for a franchise-record eighth consecutive home victory when they face the New York Rangers at BB&T Center on Saturday.

Florida, which tied its record for consecutive home wins by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-0 on Thursday, is three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with three games in hand, and four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card with four games in hand.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 31 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, will start for the Rangers, who are 10 points behind New Jersey for the second wild card.


Players to watch

Rangers forward Ryan Spooner has two goals and eight assists in six games since he was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 25.

Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov has five consecutive two-point games, with three goals and seven assists during that span.


They said it

"At the end of the day, we have to be like our fans. I don't know if you heard our fans (Thursday) night (in Tampa), but when it was 5-2, they were chanting, 'Let's go Rangers!' That's being positive and that's being persistent." -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault

"I've said this for the past month, but this is like our playoffs. We're playing playoff hockey." -- Panthers coach Bob Boughner


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan Spooner -- Kevin Hayes -- Jesper Fast

Jimmy Vesey -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Mats Zuccarello

Cody McLeod -- David Desharnais -- Paul Carey

Brady Skjei -- John Gilmour

Marc Staal -- Neal Pionk

Rob O'Gara -- Tony DeAngelo

Henrik Lundqvist

Alexandar Georgiev

Scratched: Peter Holland

Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (knee), Ondrej Pavelec (sprained MCL), Steven Kampfer (fractured hand)

Panthers projected lineup

Evgenii Dadonov -- Aleksander Barkov -- Nick Bjugstad

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Frank Vatrano

Jamie McGinn -- Jared McCann -- Maxim Mamin

Micheal Haley -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson -- Mark Pysyk

MacKenzie Weegar -- Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Connor Brickley, Radim Vrbata, Ian McCoshen

Injured: Denis Malgin (lower body) 


Status report

The Rangers did not have a morning skate. … Kreider, who practiced Friday, is questionable after leaving the game Thursday in the first period following a hit to the head. … Vatrano, who was activated from injured reserve Friday, will make his Panthers' debut. He was acquired in a trade with the Bruins on Feb. 22.


Stat pack

Four of the last eight games between the Rangers and Panthers have been decided after regulation. … Luongo has a 6-0-0 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and .946 save percentage during the home winning streak. … The Panthers' 30.6 percent success rate on the power play since Feb. 5 is the best in the NHL during that span.

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