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Rangers go for sweep of Lightning

by Dave Lozo

LIGHTNING (9-9-1) AT RANGERS (8-8-2)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 3-6-1; New York 4-4-2

Season series: This is the third and final meeting of the season between the teams. The Rangers won the first two games in regulation, 3-2 in Tampa on Feb. 2 and 5-1 in New York on Feb. 10.

Big Story: This game could see the return of Rick Nash to the Rangers lineup after a four-game absence with an undisclosed injury. He practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, but his status likely won't be confirmed until Thursday morning at the earliest.

Team Scope:

Lightning: A home date Tuesday with the Buffalo Sabres should have been the perfect tonic for the sagging Lightning. Coming into the game, the Sabres had lost six of seven and four straight and were showing no signs of life under new coach Ron Rolston.

But the Lightning offense didn't do enough in a 2-1 loss. They had six power-play chances and failed to convert on any of them.

"Four-for-41 – that isn't good enough; that's not going to win you anything," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said, referring to the team's power-play woes over the last three weeks. "We had a lot of looks, great looks, and a lot of good plays going on, but that was not good enough to score tonight."

Rangers: A sloppy second period put the Rangers in a two-goal hole against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, and they never recovered. The Rangers would cut 3-1 and 4-2 leads to a goal, but they couldn't draw even and lost 4-3.

The Rangers were missing a host of players -- Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Arron Asham -- and simply couldn't compete using their role players in bigger minutes.

"I think that if we get some people back and we have that type of effort, some of the things we do correctly, I think we'll get on our way," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We can say all the things we want to say – we just have to try to stay with it, come to work tomorrow, see what our health is and go about our business."

Who's hot: Lightning rookie Cory Conacher has a six-game point streak, with two goals and four assists over that time. ... Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has two goals in his past three games.

Injury Report: Lightning defenseman Sami Salo (lower body) will not play. ... Nash (undisclosed), Del Zotto (lower body) and McDonagh (head) all took part in practice Wednesday. Asham (back) was absent.

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