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Wednesday Night Rivalry

Kane, Lundqvist powering Hawks, Rangers

Chicago, New York look to continue climbs in Wednesday Night Rivalry

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

The New York Rangers have climbed into second place in the Metropolitan Division by going 5-0-1 in their past six games. They'll try to continue their recent surge when they host the Chicago Blackhawks this week in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

The teams haven't played since opening night, Oct. 7, when the Rangers won 3-2 at United Center in the first Wednesday Night Rivalry game of 2015-16.

The Rangers have limited opponents to 10 goals during their recent hot streak. But shutting down the Blackhawks offense figures to be a challenge; Chicago is third in the NHL with 169 non-shootout goals and comes off a 7-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The Blackhawks are 15-5-1 since the start of 2016.

Here are four players helping their teams make the climb:

Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks -- Kane got off to a hot start this season and has yet to cool off. He is running away with the scoring race; with 82 points in 60 games, he's on pace for 112 in a full season, which would by the most by any player since Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks had 112 six years ago. Kane is coming off a four-point night in the victory against Toronto, and he has four goals and nine points in seven games since the All-Star break.

Artemi Panarin, LW, Blackhawks -- The 24-year-old Russian rookie has given the Blackhawks offense a major boost. Panarin, who often plays on the other side with Kane, leads all rookies with 19 goals, 35 assists and 54 points; his assists total alone would make him fourth in scoring among first-year players. He missed a couple of games last week with an illness, but he has two goals and eight points in five games since the break.

Henrik Lundqvist, G, Rangers -- Benoit Allaire, the Rangers goaltending coach, challenged Lundqvist recently to produce more shutouts after he had gone more than two months without one. Lundqvist answered the challenge last week in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game when he blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0, and came within 9.7 seconds of back-to-back shutouts in a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Lundqvist has won his past five starts and is 8-0-1 in his past nine games at Madison Square Garden.

Mats Zuccarello, LW, Rangers -- The littlest Ranger (5-foot-7) enters the game as New York's top scorer, with 43 points in 56 games. He's coming off back-to-back two-point games, and has already equaled his career-high in goals with 19. Zuccarello has one goal and seven assists during New York's six-game points streak, and he's on pace for the first 60-point season of his NHL career.

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