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Rangers can stop Sharks' win streak, get revenge

by Tal Pinchevsky

SHARKS (44-17-7) at RANGERS (36-28-4)


Last 10: San Jose 8-1-1; New York 5-4-1

Season series: The New York Rangers look to avenge an embarrassing early-season loss when they play the San Jose Sharks for the final time. New York lost 9-2 in San Jose on Oct. 9 when Sharks rookie forward Tomas Hertl scored four goals in his third NHL game.

Big story: Hertl is out with a knee injury, but that won't be the only difference from the first time these teams played. After starting 2-6-0, New York has worked its way back into the thick of the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. San Jose has been a picture of consistency for much of the season and comes into Madison Square Garden having won five straight.

Team Scope:

Sharks: Since closing January with three straight losses by a combined score of 8-1, San Jose is making a push for the NHL's best record. The Sharks are 10-2-1 since that midseason mini-slump, including 2-0-0 on their three-game road trip.

Friday, the Sharks reassigned forward Bracken Kearns to the American Hockey League, meaning forward Raffi Torres could come back to the lineup. Torres has been held out of the past three games after enjoying a triumphant five-game run since returning from knee surgery. The 32-year-old had three goals and five points in those five games before feeling soreness and being held out of the lineup.

"We're not going to run any type of risk with him," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said before the Sharks' 4-3 win Friday against the New York Islanders. "The way Raffi plays, the intensity that he brings to the game, he will need the odd rest here and there."

Rangers: New York is 16-8-2 since Jan. 4 and bolstered the lineup with healthy defenseman Marc Staal and the acquisition of forward Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers are 3-2-1 with St. Louis after a 4-2 road win against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, when Carl Hagelin scored his first career hat trick. The win salvaged the Rangers' three-game road trip, which started with consecutive losses to the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist won his 301st NHL game, tying him with Mike Richter for the Rangers record.

"It's an extremely proud feeling to be up there with him," Lundqvist told MSG Newtork. "It's a huge honor. It also means I've been lucky, playing a long time here behind a bunch of great players and coaches."

Who's hot: Sharks center Joe Thornton has nine points in nine games since the end of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Forward Matt Nieto has three goals and five points in a four-game point streak. Forward Marty Havlat has three goals and four points in his past four games. … Rangers forward Chris Kreider has three goals in his past four games. Center Derek Stepan has 11 points in nine games since the Olympic break.

Injury report: Hertl (knee) is out for the Sharks, along with defenseman Brad Stuart (upper body). … The Rangers are fielding a healthy lineup.

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