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Preview: Rangers at Hurricanes

Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash sidelined for New York; Valentin Zykov of Carolina to make NHL debut

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RANGERS (43-22-2) at HURRICANES (26-27-10)

7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-CR, NHL.TV

Rangers team scope

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward Rick Nash each are day to day with injuries and will not be in the lineup Thursday, when the Rangers try to win their sixth straight road game. Lundqvist is out because of a lower-body injury and Nash has been hampered by an upper-body injury. "Obviously [Lundqvist] was in the last game," coach Alain Vigneault said, referring to a 5-2 victory at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. "Nash has been carrying this upper-body injury and it's just too painful today." Backup goaltender Antti Raanta, who has won his past three starts, including a 1-0 overtime victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, will start. Goaltender Brandon Halverson was recalled from Greenville of the ECHL on an emergency basis to back up Raanta. Forward Matt Puempel will play right wing on the third line with Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes. Vigneault gave a vote of confidence to center Derek Stepan, who has gone 22 games without a goal; Stepan has 12 goals in 67 games this season. "He has got to come in and see every game as a new opportunity," Vigneault said. "You can't carry the burden of (22) games when you're coming to the rink. He's got to move his feet, he's got to make plays when he has the opportunity. He's got to be competing hard on 1-on-1 pucks. If he does that, he'll be fine." The Rangers, 12-4-1 in their past 17 games, are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division, and have the best road record in the NHL at 24-8-0.


Hurricanes team scope

Goaltender Cam Ward will start for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are 3-7-2 in their past 12 games. Forward Valentin Zykov was recalled from Charlotte of the American Hockey League and will make his NHL debut. He has 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 55 AHL games this season. "The first game is always a little bit nervous, but I guess I need to remember that it's the same game," said Zykov, 21. "It's still hockey." A second-round pick (No. 37) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2013 NHL Draft, Zykov will help fill the void left by checking forwards Brock McGinn and Phillip Di Giuseppe, each out because of an upper-body injury. Zykov will play on the Hurricanes' first line with Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho. "He's playing hard [in Charlotte], he's at the net," coach Bill Peters said. "We might be able to see him on the power play net-front. He'll come in and give us some energy and be physical. He's got a heavy shot." 


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Pavel Buchnevich -- Mika Zibanejad -- J.T. Miller

Jimmy Vesey -- Kevin Hayes -- Matt Puempel

Tanner Glass -- Oscar Lindberg -- Brandon Pirri

Marc Staal -- Ryan McDonagh

Brendan Smith -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Steven Kampfer

Antti Raanta

Brandon Halverson

Scratched: Adam Clendening

Injured: Henrik Lundqvist (lower body), Rick Nash (upper body), Michael Grabner (hip), Dan Girardi (ankle), Jesper Fast (shoulder), Kevin Klein (back)


Hurricanes projected lineup

Sebastian Aho -- Jordan Staal -- Valentin Zykov

Jeff Skinner -- Victor Rask -- Elias Lindholm

Teuvo Teravainen -- Derek Ryan -- Lee Stempniak

Joakim Nordstrom -- Jay McClement -- Patrick Brown

Jaccob Slavin -- Justin Faulk

Noah Hanifin -- Brett Pesce

Klas Dahlbeck -- Ryan Murphy

Cam Ward

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Matt Tennyson

Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (upper body), Brock McGinn (upper body)

Status report

Grabner took part in the morning skate but Vigneault said he is not ready to play. ... McGinn skated in a yellow no-contact jersey Thursday.


Who's hot

Kreider has two goals in his past three games. ... Slavin has one assist in each of his past five games.

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