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Rangers go for season sweep of Jets

by John Kreiser
RANGERS (48-21-7) at JETS (35-33-8)


Last 10:
New York 6-4-0; Winnipeg 4-6-0

Season Series: It's the last of the four meetings this season between the Eastern Conference rivals. The Rangers are going for a sweep; they won 2-1 at Winnipeg on Oct. 24 and won 3-0 in each of the Jets' two visits to Madison Square Garden.

Big Story: The Rangers are on their way to the playoffs, and a win in the finale of their three-game trip would be another step toward entering the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Jets will have to regroup after a disappointing 6-4 home loss to Ottawa on Monday that all but ended their playoff hopes.

Team Scope:

Rangers: It wasn't their prettiest win of the season, but the Rangers were more concerned about standings points than style points after outlasting the pesky Wild. New York allowed two power-play goals and couldn't hold onto a pair of one-goal leads, but Minnesota native Ryan McDonagh made a slick play to set up Ruslan Fedotenko for the game-winner with 6:23 remaining in regulation.

The win, combined with Pittsburgh's 5-3 loss to the Islanders, gives the Rangers a three-point edge on the Penguins in the race for the top spot in the East.

"I'm not gonna pay much attention to what [the Penguins] are doing too much," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 24 saves to earn his 36th win of the season. "It's in our hands."

Jets: Tuesday was not a happy day around the MTS Centre after the Jets saw their playoff hopes all but vanish the night before after losing to Ottawa. Coach Claude Noel knows it won't be easy to get his team refocused after such a damaging loss.

"Tomorrow is another day and we have to regroup," Noel said after Tuesday's practice. "Today they need to do whatever they need to do and same with the coaching staff. Tomorrow the sun comes up and we have to look forward to getting back to work and playing the Rangers, a tough team -- a new challenge. Strap it on and let's go. That's what you have to do."

Who's Hot: Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik scored Tuesday and has three goals in his last two games. His center, Brad Richards, has three assists in those two contests. … Winnipeg fourth-liner Tim Stapleton has three goals and five points in his last five games.

Injury Report: The Rangers lost Mats Zuccarello to a broken wrist last Friday; he had surgery over the weekend. … The Jets are missing three forwards: Eric Fehr (upper body), Nik Antropov (lower body) and Chris Thorburn (lower body).

Stat Pack: New York has a combined record of 18-4-5 in back-to-back games this season. The Rangers are 9-2-3 (3-1-0 at home, 6-1-3 on the road) mark in the first game -- and are 6-1-1 in the second game of the series when winning the first game. … The Rangers finished their season schedule against the Western Conference with a 10-6-2 record.

Puck Drop: The Jets know making the playoffs is almost impossible after the loss to Ottawa -- but it will be even harder if they can't rebound with a big effort against a team that has dominated them this season.

"It's not like we're eliminated yet," center Bryan Little said. "There is still a slight hope but like I said, we can't be talking about making the playoffs and being so worried about it, we just have to try to play our best hockey and win as many games as we can."

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