RANGERS (34-32-10) at LIGHTNING (31-34-12)
New York 5-4-1; Tampa Bay 3-7-0
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Rangers have won the last two meetings after dropping the first matchup.
It's the hungry, desperate Rangers against a Lightning team with nothing much to play for. Good news for the Rangers, right? Ask the Penguins about that -- they lost 2-0 at home to Tampa on Wednesday.
Down 2-0 to the lowly Islanders on Tuesday, it looked the Rangers were about to receive the knock-out blow to end their playoff hopes. But four straight goals kept hope alive for at least a little while longer, as the Rangers emerged with a 4-3 win.
"We need wins as much as possible and if that's what it takes, I'm going to do that," Marc Staal
, who scored in Tuesday's win, said about adding offense from the blue line. "Lately I've found more opportunity to jump in the rush. Our forwards are making room at there."
The Rangers are four points behind a trio of teams for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Down and out, on the road against the Stanley Cup-champion and Atlantic Division-leading Penguins? No problem for the Lightning.
Mike Smith made 27 saves and Steven Stamkos
had a goal and an assist to help the Lightning get the surprising 2-0 win, just their third victory in 10 games.
"As a team we were just battling through moments," said defenseman Mike Lundin, who logged a career-high 29:48 of ice time in the win. "It was just guys coming together and battling for each other all night long."
Tampa's Steve Downie
has 4 goals and an assist in his last six games. … Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto
has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games.
For the Rangers, Ryan Callahan
, Sean Avery
and Brian Boyle
are out. … Tampa's Ryan Malone
is out. Defensemen Victor Hedman
and David Hale are questionable.
The Rangers have posted a record of 8-7-3 vs. the Southeast Division; the Lightning have registered a 7-10-2 mark vs. the Atlantic Division. … Friday will begin the Rangers' 12th of 13 back-to-back sets this season. New York has posted a record of 4-7-0 in the front-end of those games.
"The guys that are getting it done, they're going to get an opportunity. No matter if they're call-ups, first-round picks, whatever, star players, we need guys contributing." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella