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Preview: Rangers at Bruins

Boston forward David Backes missed five games after elbow surgery; Massachusetts native Jimmy Vesey makes first visit home with New York

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

RANGERS (8-3-0) at BRUINS (6-4-0)

7 p.m. ET; (NHLN, NESN, MSG, NHL.TV)

Rangers team scope

The New York Rangers have won three consecutive games, outscoring the opposition 16-4 in that span, and lead the NHL with 45 goals. Rookie forward Jimmy Vesey, from North Reading, Massachusetts, is tied with forwards Rick Nash and Michael Grabner for the Rangers lead in goals with six. Vesey, who won the Hobey Baker Award last season at Harvard as the best player in collegiate hockey, will play his first game in Boston since he chose New York ahead of the Bruins and several other teams as a college free agent Aug. 19. "I've played at [TD Garden] before, but not against the Bruins," Vesey told the New York Post. "Seeing them [in New York] last week might take some of the nerves out of it. It will be a big day for my family." Goaltender Antti Raanta will make his third start this season. He's 2-0-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average.


Bruins team scope

Forward David Backes will return to the Boston Bruins lineup Saturday. Backes, who has two goals and two assists in five games, missed the past five games after elbow surgery Oct. 24. He began skating on his own Wednesday and joined the Bruins for their morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena on Saturday. "It's nothing that's critical, we'll be bumping and grinding the way we normally do and be back to full speed," Backes said, "and hopefully continue to help these guys win games the way they started a good streak on the road." The Bruins have won three straight games and their last defeat was a 5-2 loss against the Rangers on Oct. 26. Boston has allowed four goals during its winning streak but now have to face the best offense in the League. "We just have to play our game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's not about doing something different than what we do. We just have to be really good at it and really respect and acknowledge the fact they really like the speed game, and even in the offensive zone. They do a good job of moving around and finding those open guys. So our structure in our D zone has to be good as well." Goaltender Tuukka Rask will start. He's 6-0-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and .951 save percentage this season.


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

Pavel Buchnevich - Brandon Pirri - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Nick Holden

Brady Skjei - Kevin Klein

Antti Raanta

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Oscar Lindberg

Injured: Josh Jooris (shoulder)


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner - David Krejci - David Backes

Matt Beleskey - Riley Nash - Jimmy Hayes

Tim Schaller - Dominic Moore - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

John-Michael Liles - Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

Zane McIntyre

Scratched: Joe Morrow, Austin Czarnik

Injured: Kevan Miller (hand), Anton Khudobin (upper body)


Status report

Only the Rangers extras took part in a morning skate at TD Garden on Saturday. ... Lundqvist is expected to start at home against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. ... Julien said a decision on who would be the scratched forward would be made at game time. ... The Bruins assigned forward Sean Kuraly to Providence of the American Hockey League on Friday. He made his NHL debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.


Who's hot

Kevin Hayes has two goals and five assists during a three-game point streak. ... Rask has made 80 saves on 84 shots (.952 save percentage) in three games since returning from injury.

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