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Preview: Rangers at Kings

Los Angeles looking to gain in wild-card race; Dan Girardi returns for New York

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

RANGERS (45-25-4) at KINGS (35-31-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, MSG+, NHL.TV

 

Rangers team scope

The New York Rangers enter Saturday eight points in front of the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. "We played really well this season to put ourselves in a situation where, we still need to continue to get better, but we have a little bit of a cushion," Derek Stepan said. Defenseman Dan Girardi will return to the lineup after missing the past 12 games with an ankle injury, coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm feeling really good," Girardi said. "I've been able to work out a lot, skate a lot and get in good shape, so I'm real excited to go. Girardi said he's hoping to contribute to a penalty-kill unit that ranks 23rd in the NHL at 79.3 percent and has allowed 10 power-play goals in its last 23 shorthanded situations. "We've been watching a lot of film on it, and we feel like a lot of goals come right from the front of our net," he said. "When pucks are coming through, we need three, four guys back to the net to help out. I'm not saying I'm a miracle worker, I'm just hoping I can go out and help a little bit with the PK, and hope we get it back on track here."

 

Kings team scope

The Los Angeles Kings enter Saturday eight points behind the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues for the second wild card from the Western Conference. The Kings were three points back of St. Louis for the after a 4-2 victory against the visiting Washington Capitals on March 11, and hosted them two days later, but lost 3-1 to begin a 1-3-1 stretch in five games. Jonny Brodzinski is expected to make his NHL debut for the Kings. He was recalled from Ontario of the American Hockey League on Thursday, where he led the team with 25 goals and 47 points in 56 games. Brodzinski skated on a line with Nic Dowd and Adrian Kempe during practice Friday and again during the morning skate Saturday. "I'm excited for those two young guys, Kempe and him, just to see what they've got," coach Darryl Sutter said after practice Friday. "It's getting a little broad to start talking about roles or any of that stuff. We just want to try and get them a game here or there and see where they're at."

 

Rangers projected lineup

Jimmy Vesey -- Mika Zibanejad -- Rick Nash

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

Pavel Buchnevich -- Oscar Lindberg -- Jesper Fast

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith.

Antti Raanta

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Matt Puempel, Brandon Pirri, Adam Clendening, Tanner Glass

Injured: Kevin Klein (back)

 

Kings projected lineup

Marian Gaborik -- Anze Kopitar -- Jarome Iginla

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Tyler Toffoli

Adrian Kempe -- Nic Dowd -- Jonny Brodzinski

Andy Andreoff -- Trevor Lewis -- Dustin Brown

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Paul LaDue

Brayden McNabb -- Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Ben Bishop

Scratched: Kyle Clifford, Nick Shore, Jordan Nolan, Kevin Gravel

Injured: None

 

Status report

Vigneault said Lundqvist, who has been out since March 7 with a hip injury, will return Sunday at the Anaheim Ducks. ... Klein, who has been out with a back injury since Feb. 21, will return on Sunday or Tuesday at the San Jose Sharks.

 

Who's hot

Zuccarello has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games. ... Lindberg has two goals and two assists during his three-game point streak. ... Kopitar has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past 13 games.

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