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game preview

Rangers at Lightning preview

Tampa Bay defenseman Girardi to play against New York for first time

by Corey Long / Correspondent

RANGERS (4-7-2) at LIGHTNING (10-2-1)

7:30 p.m. ET, SUN, MSG, NHL.TV


The Game

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi will play against the New York Rangers for the first time at Amalie Arena on Thursday. 

Girardi, who spent 11 seasons with the Rangers, signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Lightning on July 1 after the Rangers bought out the remaining three years of his contract on June 14. He had 230 points (46 goals, 184 assists) in 788 regular-season games.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will go for his 10th consecutive win, which would set a Lightning record. John Grahame won nine straight from Nov. 14 to Dec. 10, 2005.

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh is expected to play after missing practice Wednesday.

The Lightning will wear purple warm-up jerseys as part of the NHL's "Hockey Fights Cancer" month.


Players to watch

Rangers forward Michael Grabner has 10 goals in 18 regular-season games against the Lightning, including a hat trick on Oct. 30, 2016.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos will play in his 600th NHL game. He leads the League with 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists) and has 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 25 games against the Rangers.


They said it

"I think we're 3-2-1 in our last six games. We've battled back in quite in few. There's obviously things we know we need to clean up and we're working on them. But there have also been some good things and let's bring those good things [Thursday] to a tough building [and] a real strong team, and let's have a good game." -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault

"I'm not sure how it's going to feel out there. We'll find out around 7:30 when the puck drops. It's an exciting game for me, I think. I'm just looking forward to getting out there, just having a good game and hopefully getting the win." -- Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Rick Nash -- Kevin Hayes -- Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey -- David Desharnais -- J.T. Miller

Michael Grabner -- Boo Nieves -- Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Brady Skjei -- Steven Kampfer

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Henrik Lundqvist

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Brendan Smith, Paul Carey

Injured: None


Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz -- Tyler Johnson -- Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn -- Gabriel Dumont -- J.T. Brown 

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Dan Girardi

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Andrej Sustr, Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Cedric Paquette (upper body)


Status report

McDonagh skated with Rangers extras. ... Paquette participated in the Lightning's optional skate and could return next week. 


Stat pack

The Krieder-Zibanejad-Buchnevich line had six points (three goals, three assists) and 14 shots on goal in the Rangers' 6-4 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. … Stamkos' 24 points in October were the most by a Lightning player in a single month since Kucherov had 22 in March.

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