RANGERS (35-30-4) at SHARKS (39-22-7)
TV: MSG (HD), CSN-CA (HD)
New York 4-6-0; San Jose 8-1-1
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. They last met on Oct. 19, 2009, when Devin Setoguchi scored twice and the Sharks rallied from an early two-goal deficit to rout the Rangers 7-3 at Madison Square Garden.
Only 13 games remain in the regular season for the Rangers, tied for the fewest of any team in the Eastern Conference. As they teeter on the edge of the postseason race, that makes winning now of the essence -- particularly after the opening game of this brief California road trip didn't go well in Anaheim and with two more days of inactivity coming up on the schedule.
While many teams are dealing with back-to-backs and three games in four nights, New York is in the middle of a stretch where it plays only five games in a two-week span. While rest is nice, it's hard to gain points in the standings when you're not on the ice -- or when you play the type of game the Rangers did Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Ducks. Brandon Dubinsky
opened the scoring 3:30 in, but it was mostly Anaheim after that as Corey Perry and Lubomir Visnovsky each beat Henrik Lundqvist
on a pair of goals.
"That's not us," forward Brian Boyle
said after practice Thursday. "We are not a team that fails to come to work. But last night was not our best effort. And we have to make sure that mentally we do all the right things to prepare."
Even though it didn't come away with the win, San Jose had reason to feel pretty good about the way it played against Presidents' Trophy-leading Vancouver at the Shark Tank on Thursday. Torrey Mitchell
and Ryane Clowe
each had game-tying goals in the final 2:23 of the third period, sandwiched around a Daniel Sedin tally that temporarily put the Canucks back in front. The Sharks had a power play in overtime but couldn't convert, and eventually Alexandre Burrows beat Antti Niemi
in the shootout to deal them a 5-4 defeat.
"We're on our end still, fighting for our playoff lives, so we have to get as many points as we can," captain Joe Thornton
said. "The atmosphere was great, it was an exciting game to be a part of. We just kept coming back. It's a good sign."
Vinny Prospal has 1 goal and 5 assists during a five-game points streak for the Rangers. Ryan Callahan
(4-3-7) and Artem Anisimov
(2-2-4) have three-game points streaks going. … Dany Heatley (2-4-6) and Patrick Marleau
(3-2-5) are working on four-game points streaks for the Sharks. Clowe has 3 goals and 1 assist in the last two games.
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. … San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle
has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury. Forward Scott Nichol and defenseman Kent Huskins are on injured reserve with upper-body ailments.
Lundqvist has made three career appearances against the Sharks, splitting his two decisions with a 2.59 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. … Thornton picked up the 400th assist of his San Jose career on Thursday.
The Rangers missed the playoffs on the final day of the regular season a year ago, and it could come right down to the wire once again. Coach John Tortorella was keeping positive after practice Thursday.
"We played a bad game, and we haven't had many of those this year at all," he said. "We need to make some corrections, and we need to bring some things to their attention, and then we play our next game."