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Rangers, Ducks both seeking important two points

by Brian Hunter
RANGERS (35-29-4) at DUCKS (35-26-5)


Last 10:
New York 5-5-0; Anaheim 4-5-1

Season series:
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. They haven't faced each other since Oct. 11, 2009, when the Rangers broke open a scoreless game in the third period at Madison Square Garden and went on to a 3-0 victory.

Big story:
While there isn't a heated rivalry built up between these teams that are located thousands of miles apart and usually face each other just once a season, there still figures to be a buzz to this game based solely upon how much both sides need it. The Rangers are trying to stave off challenges from several teams vying with them for one of the last Eastern Conference playoff spots, while the Ducks enter Wednesday outside the top eight in the West, with their margin for error shrinking by the day.

Team Scope:

Rangers: Just when a three-game losing streak threatened the postseason berth New York has been carefully guarding all season, the Rangers strung together back-to-back victories. And the latter was a resounding 7-0 thumping of the Flyers at the Garden before a national-TV audience on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Callahan did the hat trick one better by scoring four goals in support of Henrik Lundqvist's NHL-leading ninth shutout of the season, and rookie Mats Zuccarello had a pair of tallies.

"You could feel that it was like a playoff game here today, the crowd was definitely into it," said Lundqvist, who made 24 saves. "And it was a good win. We needed this one badly here at home before going out on a road trip."

Ducks: This is the finale of what's been an up-and-down seven-game homestand for Anaheim. The Ducks are 3-2-1 to this point -- not bad, but not enough for them to gain the necessary ground in a conference race as tight as the West has been. Following three straight wins, they didn't have an answer for Canucks backup goalie Corey Schneider on Sunday. Ryan Getzlaf had 11 of their 26 shots, but Schneider turned them all aside in dealing the Ducks a 3-0 defeat.

"We have to reevaluate, sit back and take a look at the things we did wrong and right," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We'll present that to them. I talked to them after the game. I told them they just didn't play well enough to win the hockey game. We have to accept responsibility for that. We have been on an emotional rollercoaster and have played lots of hockey. Every game is very important."

Who's hot: In addition to Callahan's big day, Zuccarello has 3 goals in his last two games for the Rangers, doubling his output from his first 30 NHL games. Anisimov has goals in three of his last four games. Vinny Prospal has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak. … Over the last 16 games for the Ducks, Teemu Selanne (7-12-19) and Bobby Ryan (9-8-17) have led the way.

Injury report:
New York goalie Martin Biron is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Forwards Derek Boogaard (shoulder/concussion), Alex Frolov (knee) and Chris Drury (knee) are on injured reserve. … Anaheim forward Jason Blake has missed the last two games with a laceration to his right hand and is day-to-day. Goalie Jonas Hiller (vertigo) and forward Saku Koivu (groin) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Rangers are in solid position to have six 20-goal scorers this season. Callahan and Brian Boyle are already there, tied for the team lead, while Brandon Dubinsky (19), Derek Stepan (18), Marian Gaborik (17) and Anisimov (16) sit close behind. … Toni Lydman leads the Ducks with a plus-25 rating, stunning when you consider the next highest rating on the team is Selanne at plus-5.

Puck drop:
Ray Emery, recalled from the AHL after a strong weekend performance, could make his season debut for Anaheim. Emery is 87-51-15 in 163 career games for Ottawa and Philadelphia, with a 2.70 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. Dan Ellis has started each of the last five games with Hiller out.

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