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game preview

Rangers at Lightning preview

Teams face each other for first time since blockbuster trade on Feb. 26

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

RANGERS (30-31-6) at LIGHTNING (46-17-4)

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

 

The Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will play at Amalie Arena on Thursday for the first time since making a blockbuster trade on Feb. 26. The Rangers sent defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller to the Lightning for forward Vladislav Namestnikov, defenseman Lidor Hajek, forward Brett Howden, a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and a conditional second-round choice in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Miller has five points (two goals, three assists) since joining the Lightning. Namestnikov has a goal and an assist with the Rangers. McDonagh (hand) has not played for the Lightning and will not play Thursday.

The Lightning have won three in a row, are 7-0-1 in their past eight games and have the best record in the NHL. They lead the Atlantic Division with 96 points, six more than the second-place Boston Bruins. Each of Tampa Bay's last six games has been decided in overtime or a shootout; according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the NHL record for consecutive OT games is seven, set by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003-04 and matched by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008-09.

The Rangers are 3-1-0 in their past four games. New York is seven points behind Columbus for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

 

Players to watch

Rangers center Ryan Spooner has seven points (goal, six assists) in his past five games.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past 11 games.

 

They said it

"It's something new ... the change. It's an opportunity for me to show what I can do on a young team. I just have to move forward and enjoy it." -- Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov on embracing the trade that sent him to New York

"I tried not to think about it until today. Obviously I saw some of the guys last night. It's going to be weird for sure. We're all human here and I've got some good friends over there. I have to put that aside and come ready to play" -- Lightning forward J.T. Miller on facing the Rangers

 

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, Neal Pionk

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

 

Lightning projected lineup

Alex Killorn -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- J.T. Miller

Cory Conacher -- Tyler Johnson -- Adam Erne

Ryan Callahan -- Anthony Cirelli -- Chris Kunitz

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Slater Koekkoek -- Dan Girardi

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Andrej Sustr, Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette

Injured: Ondrej Palat (lower body), Ryan McDonagh (hand), Peter Budaj (lower body)

 

Status report

Zibanejad will play after missing a 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday with the flu. ... Dotchin has been a healthy scratch for the past six games and Koekkoek for the past four.

 

Stat pack

Hayes has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his past 13 games. … Kucherov has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in his past 12 games.

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