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Preview: Rangers at Sharks

New York, San Jose looking to clinch playoff berths

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

RANGERS (46-26-4) at SHARKS (42-26-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, MSG, CSN-CA, NHL.TV


Rangers team scope

The New York Rangers can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the San Jose Sharks or if the Boston Bruins lose in any fashion to the Nashville Predators. The Rangers hold the first wild card in the Eastern Conference with 96 points, 12 ahead of Boston. "Obviously it's just something you want to get over with and not let it hang and drag on any longer," forward Rick Nash said. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to make his second consecutive start after missing eight games with a hip injury. Lundqvist allowed five goals on 33 shots in a 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Sunday. Defenseman Dan Girardi will return to the lineup and replace Kevin Klein on the top pair with Ryan McDonagh. Klein missed 16 games with a back injury before playing against the Ducks. Girardi missed 12 games with an ankle injury before returning to the lineup in a 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday. "Klein, after playing last game, felt a little tightness, so I'm not using him on back-to-back games," coach Alain Vigneault said. Matt Puempel likely will replace Pavel Buchnevich in the lineup and skate on the fourth line.


Sharks team scope

The Sharks have lost a season-high six straight games, but can clinch a playoff berth with a victory against the Rangers in regulation or overtime. The Sharks can also clinch if they defeat the Rangers in a shootout and the Los Angeles Kings either lose to the Edmonton Oilers in any fashion or defeat the Oilers in a shootout; if they get one point against the Rangers and the Kings lose to the Oilers in any fashion; or if the Kings lose to the Oilers in regulation. San Jose (91 points) is tied with the Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division, two points behind the Anaheim Ducks. "We're going to be a playoff team," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I want our game in the right place heading into the playoffs. Whatever seed we end up, whoever we draw in the first round, you get to those 16 teams that are in, there are no easy matchups, and there's no preferred matchups." The Sharks will be without second-line center Logan Couture, who was hit in the mouth by a deflected puck late in the second period against Nashville on Saturday and lost several teeth. "I don't have a time frame for when he'll be back, but I'm confident he's going to be back," DeBoer said. Patrick Marleau likely will center the second line. Martin Jones is expected to make his 60th start.


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash -- Mika Zibanejad -- Jimmy Vesey

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- Jesper Fast

Matt Puempel -- Oscar Lindberg -- J.T. Miller

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Brady Skjei

Brendan Smith -- Nick Holden

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched:  Pavel Buchnevich, Brandon Pirri, Adam Clendening, Tanner Glass, Kevin Klein, Steven Kampfer

Injured:  None


Sharks projected lineup

Jannik Hansen -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Patrick Marleau -- Mikkel Boedker

Joel Ward -- Tomas Hertl -- Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi -- Chris Tierney -- Timo Meier

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Marcus Sorensen

Injured: Logan Couture (face)

Suspended: Micheal Haley

Status report

Fast took rushes on the third line and Miller dropped to the fourth. ... Haley will serve a one-game suspension for roughing Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday. ... Karlsson said he expects to return to the lineup after missing eight games. ... Vlasic (flu) and forward Chris Tierney (undisclosed) are expected in the lineup after not playing on Sunday. ... Labanc was recalled from San Jose of the American Hockey League and likely will replace Sorensen in the lineup.


Who's hot

Nash has a four-game goal streak. ... Zuccarello has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past eight games. ... Thornton has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past 11 games. 

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