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Preview: Rangers at Islanders

Visitors try for seventh consecutive win, first at Barclays Center

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

RANGERS (37-18-1) at ISLANDERS (25-20-10)

7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV

 

Rangers team scope

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in goal for the New York Rangers when they look to extend their season-high winning streak to seven games against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center, where they are 0-2-1 since the Islanders moved to Brooklyn last season. Lundqvist started 17 consecutive games before Antti Raanta made 30 saves in a 3-2 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. "You look at the last six games, it hasn't been perfect, we've just been finding ways to win games and that's what it comes down to," said Lundqvist, who has a 1.98 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in his past five starts, all wins. "You're not going to play perfect every night, but as long as you cash in when you do have a good stretch of 5-10 minutes of a period and you make sure you don't get hurt when you struggle, [you'll be OK]. I think we've just been finding ways to win games."

 

Islanders team scope

The Islanders don't need much motivation following arguably their worst loss of the season, a 7-1 defeat at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. But it certainly doesn't hurt that they're facing their biggest rival. The Islanders enter Thursday three points behind the Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. "At this time of year it's really a playoff-type of atmosphere I think for us game in and game out," captain John Tavares said. "We've really got to bring that type of approach, how crucial each game is and the points that are available. No matter where teams are in the standings, at this time of year these games are really fun against these guys. It just adds to it that there's a lot to play for."

 

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey -- Derek Stepan -- Rick Nash

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

Matt Puempel -- Oscar Lindberg -- Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Pavel Buchnevich, Brandon Pirri, Adam Clendening

Injured: None

 

Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier -- Brock Nelson -- Ryan Strome

Andrew Ladd -- Casey Cizikas -- Nikolay Kulemin

Jason Chimera -- Alan Quine -- Stephen Gionta

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Hickey -- Scott Mayfield

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Adam Pelech

Injured: Travis Hamonic (knee), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Shane Prince (upper body)

 

Status report

Puempel will be in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 5. He'll replace Buchnevich, who has one assist in his past 10 games. "[Buchnevich] had a so-so game last game," coach Alain Vigneault told the Rangers website Wednesday. "Part of the growing process of a young player. [Puempel] is a young player, and I just feel it's time to get him in a game." Skjei is expected to be on the second power-play unit with Zibanejad, Hayes, Miller and Kreider. … Clutterbuck and Hamonic skated Thursday morning but neither is ready to return. It was Hamonic's first time skating since he was injured Jan. 7. "It's great," coach Doug Weight said. "I think a lot of the pain has gone out of him. I've been on that road, those knee injuries, and once you can get your mind free of that pain you can really start pushing it. We'll see how he is through Saturday, and as long as nothing comes I told him he's not going to like this very much, but we're going to get aggressive. We've got to get his lungs in shape and strength in those legs. We'll work at him hard. We need him back."  

 

Who's hot

Miller has two goals and nine assists during a seven-game point streak. He has a point in 10 of his past 11 games. Hayes has scored in back-to-back games and has seven points during a four-game point streak. … Chimera has nine goals in his past 16 games. 

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