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New York Rangers vs. Nashville Predators @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Rangers (23-29-7-4) at Nashville Predators (31-23-7-2).

TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EST.

Numerous players are sure to change teams with the trade deadline less than two weeks away.

It's hard to imagine any of them having a bigger impact than Steve Sullivan has had on the Nashville Predators.

Sullivan looks to continue his torrid scoring when the New York Rangers make their only appearance of the season at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

In an effort to bolster a mediocre offense, the Predators acquired Sullivan from Chicago on Feb. 16 for a pair of second-round draft picks.

Since the trade, Nashville has won four of five games while scoring 23 goals - nine on the power play. Sullivan has six goals and five assists with his new team - but his contributions go beyond scoring.

"People might only look at his offensive stats, but he kills penalties, starts breakouts," goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "He and Scott Walker are working great together."

Sullivan scored a power-play goal and Vokoun stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season in Nashville's 4-0 victory over visiting Minnesota on Thursday.

Dan Hamhuis also scored on the power play and Andreas Johansson had a short-handed goal for the Predators, hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

"It's a good feeling right now," Sullivan said. "I got my legs underneath me. I'm using my feet, using the speed to my advantage, and our line is clicking right now. It's not going to work like that every single night."

Another key to Nashville's success this season has been the play of first-year defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who is among the NHL leaders in defensemen scoring with 40 points.

Zidlicky, acquired in the trade that sent goalie Mike Dunham to the Rangers on Dec. 12, 2002, has one goal and six assists in his last five games.

Although the Rangers completed a six-game season sweep of the archrival New York Islanders with a 6-3 victory Thursday in Tom Renney's first game as interim coach, they still trail the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by double digits.

"It's a vision. It's a ways out there, but we have our eye on it," Renney said of the distant playoff hopes with 19 games remaining.

The Rangers haven't won consecutive games since Dec. 29-30.

Jaromir Jagr continued his strong play with two goals and an assist Thursday. He has eight goals and seven assists during an eight-game point streak.

Dunham has won all six games against the Islanders this season, but is just 9-22-1 against the rest of the league.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 26): Rangers - 57 points, 4th place, 26 PB, Atlantic Division. Predators - 71 points, 2nd place, 12 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 25 goals, 38 assists and 63 points; Chris Simon, 213 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 21 goals, 33 assists and 54 points; Jordin Tootoo, 125 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 26): Rangers - Power play: 14.5 percent (36 for 248), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (240 for 298), 28th. Predators - Power play: 16.9 percent (55 for 326), 11th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (240 for 292), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Dunham (15-22-6, 1 SO, 2.94 GAA); Jussi Markkanen (8-10-1, 2, 2.60). Predators - Vokoun (28-22-6, 3, 2.57); Chris Mason (3-3-1, 1, 2.11).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 23, 2003; Rangers, 4-2. At Nashville, Tenn., Dunham stopped 28 shots against his former team, and the Rangers scored three goals in the final 2{ minutes of the first period

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 11-14-4-0 on the road; Predators - 20-7-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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