Devils look for boost against Rangers
McDonagh to miss battle of cross-river rivalsby Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer
RANGERS (34-19-6) at DEVILS (29-24-7)
TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV
NEWARK, N.J. -- There's no better cure for an untimely losing streak than returning to form against a division rival, and that's what the New Jersey Devils will look to do against their Metropolitan Division nemesis New York Rangers on Tuesday at Prudential Center.
The Devils, who look to end a three-game losing streak, haven't lost four straight since they began the season 0-3-1. New Jersey, three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, has been outscored 11-6 the past three.
"It's a huge game, and even though you never want to say it's a must-win until they are, we know the importance of this game," Devils right wing Lee Stempniak said. "I thought we've played well over the past two games especially (a 1-0 loss against the New York Islanders on Feb. 19) and for long stretches (in a 4-3 loss at the Washington Capitals on Saturday). We still didn't get the two points, though, and this is the time of year you can't let those things slide."
Defenseman Damon Severson will be back in the lineup after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch. Severson, who will replace Seth Helgeson, was paired with Jon Merrill during the morning skate.
"I think our game is in order," Devils coach John Hynes said, "but we just have to make sure that we're playing for 60 minutes, and playing the right way because that's a key to our success."
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider has allowed 10 goals during the losing streak after allowing 11 in his previous seven starts. He has been seeking his 26th win, which would match a career high (2014-15), since his last victory on Feb. 13. Schneider has a 1.65 goals-against average in three games against the Rangers this season.
"No matter what the situation is, there will be times when you play well or struggle and don't win games," Hynes said. "Let's figure out how we can get better and get out of it, and maybe that's [against the Rangers]. It's about continuing to do the right things, and we believe if we do, as a group, we'll get out of it and remain competitive."
The Rangers did not hold a morning skate but captain Ryan McDonagh was on the ice for a workout. Forward Marek Hrivik and goaltender Antti Raanta joined McDonagh.
McDonagh sat out a fifth time in seven games Sunday, but the Rangers improved to 7-1-1 in the past nine with a 1-0 overtime victory against the Detroit Red Wings. The Rangers are 4-0-1 without McDonagh in the lineup. The defenseman sat out four straight games because of a head injury and had to leave a 4-2 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 18 after forward Leo Komarov elbowed him in the head.
Rangers left wing J.T. Miller has scored three goals in the past two games against New Jersey, but has gone without a goal in six straight.
The Devils have won two of three games against the Rangers this season. They had a 3-2 win at Prudential Center on Feb. 2 to end a four-game home losing streak in the series, but lost 2-1 in the rematch at Madison Square Garden six days later.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 3-1-1 with a 1.59 GAA in his past five games against the Devils.
Here are the projected lineups:
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast
Oscar Lindberg - Kevin Hayes - Viktor Stalberg
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Marek Hrivik
Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Kevin Klein
Dan Boyle - Dylan McIlrath
Injured: Ryan McDonagh (jaw/neck), Rick Nash (bone bruise)
Joseph Blandisi - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak
Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Sergey Kalinin - Jacob Josefson - Tyler Kennedy
Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
John Moore - David Schlemko
Damon Severson - Jon Merrill
Injured: Michael Cammalleri (right hand), Stefan Matteau (facial fracture), Patrik Elias (right knee), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist)
Scratched: Bobby Farnham, Eric Gelinas, Seth Helgeson
Status update: McDonagh, who skated on his own the past two days, hopes to return to the lineup either at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday or at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. … Hynes is hopeful Elias, who has missed the past 26 games, will play again before the regular season ends. "It's going to come down to whether his body will allow him to be able to get back in by the end of the season, but we're planning and hoping that it'll work out for our team," Hynes said … Cammalleri, who has missed the past 10 games, remains week-to-week. "It's one of those (injuries) where for us and for him, he does things to help it get better and we try to progress it and sometimes there's a setback and sometimes it keeps going forward, so there's really no answer or time frame," Hynes said.
Who's hot: Hayes has three goals and six points in the past six games. … Boucher has two goals and six points in the past six games.