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Preview: Rangers at Maple Leafs

Henrik Lundqvist expected back in goal for New York; Toronto playing without Morgan Rielly

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

RANGERS (28-16-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-13-8)

7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, MSG, NHL.TV


Rangers team scope

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in goal for the New York Rangers, one game after allowing seven goals on 27 shots in a 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Lundqvist was on the bench for the third period. Lundqvist has lost three straight games and has allowed 20 goals on 113 shots (.823 save percentage) in his past four games. "You just try to work hard and be positive," Lundqvist said. "That's the only way for me. There's really no shortcuts to get back to the level where you need to be." The Rangers have been successful away from Madison Square Garden this season, with an NHL-best 15 road wins. "We believe in our group here," captain Ryan McDonagh said. "It's been a tough stretch, no doubt about it. But we've got a lot of guys in here with experience. It's never going to be perfect throughout the whole season and our group realizes that. The Rangers held an optional morning skate Thursday, with goaltender Magnus Hellberg, and forwards Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg practicing.


Maple Leafs team scope

Defenseman Morgan Rielly won't play because of a right knee injury, sustained during a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday when Sabres forward William Carrier fell on the back of Rielly's leg. He is listed as day-to-day. "Whenever you go down awkwardly and you don't really know what happened, you get a bit concerned," Rielly said. "But we have a great staff here in Toronto and the doctors took good care of it and I think we have a pretty good idea of what's going on. Right now it's day to day so that's good news." Defenseman Jake Gardiner, who played a season-high 29:24 on Tuesday, will be moved onto the top pairing with Nikita Zaitsev. "I feel pretty confident right now," Gardiner said. "I think this year has been good offensively, and when you start getting points you get more confidence. I think I've been a lot more consistent this year and that's a big part of it too." Rielly's absence opens a spot for defenseman Frank Corrado, who will play his second game of the season. He returned to the Maple Leafs on Monday after completing a seven-game conditioning stint with the Toronto of the American Hockey League. "The timing of your game and just little subtleties with and without the puck, I think that's something I got back with the conditioning stint," Corrado said. The Maple Leafs are on a three-game winning streak and are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games. Goalie Frederik Andersen will make his second consecutive start.


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Pavel Buchnevich -- Mika Zibanejad -- Rick Nash

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

Jimmy Vesey -- Oscar Lindberg -- Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Nick Holden -- Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei -- Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

Magnus Hellberg

Scratched: None

Injured: Marc Staal (concussion), Matt Puempel (concussion), Jesper Fast (upper body), Antti Raanta (lower body)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- William Nylander

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Frederik Gauthier -- Nikita Soshnikov

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frank Corrado -- Connor Carrick

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Josh Leivo

Injured: Morgan Rielly (right knee), Ben Smith (hand), Martin Marincin (lower body)


Status report

Staal has been skating since the end of last week and was expected to skate on his own Thursday. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Staal is coming along but that there is no timetable for his return. Staal has not played since Jan. 3 and will miss his sixth straight game. Puempel returned to practice Wednesday after being in the NHL concussion protocol for the past several weeks. He has not played since a 6-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 31. "He's been cleared for contact, so now it's just a matter of getting him a couple practices here and seeing how he reacts to having people around him and hopefully it goes well," Vigneault said. Fast is expected to be out 7-10 days.


Who's hot

Stepan has three goals and two assists in his past two games. Zuccarello has five assists during a three-game point streak. Buchnevich has one goal and four assists in three games since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for two months. Zibanejad had two goals in his return to the lineup against the Stars. He had been out for two months because of a broken leg. ... van Riemsdyk has three goals and nine assists during an eight-game point streak. Marner has seven assists during a four-game point streak. Kadri has five goals and three assists during a six-game point streak.

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