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Rangers look to clinch Presidents' Trophy vs. Devils

by Mike G. Morreale

RANGERS (51-21-7) at DEVILS (32-34-13)


NEWARK, N.J. -- New York Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot will have a chance to help his team clinch the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG, MSG-PLUS).

It's a rather fitting opportunity for Talbot, considering the huge role he played while goalie Henrik Lundqvist recovered from a vascular injury in his neck that forced him to miss 24 games from Feb. 4 through March 26. Talbot went 16-4-3 with a 2.16 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .929 save percentage in the absence of Lundqvist.

Since his return to the lineup, Lundqvist has played the past five games (4-1-0) and has a 2.00 GAA and .937 save percentage in four straight wins.

The Rangers can also clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference with one point. A victory would match the franchise record of 52 regular-season wins set in 1993-94 when the organization won its fourth Stanley Cup.

Talbot, who could be playing his final game of 2014-15 with just three regular-season games remaining before the start of playoffs, won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award as voted upon by the Rangers fans Monday. McDonald is an NYPD detective who was shot in the line of duty and paralyzed in 1986.

"It's an extremely big honor to receive an award like that and for what [McDonald] has done and what he means to the team and the community, it's a pretty special award to be given," Talbot said Monday. "Obviously I have to thank the fans for voting for me and thank my teammates."

Talbot (20-9-4, 2.21 GAA, five shutouts, .926 save percentage) will be making his first career start against the Devils. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, who was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots in the first period of a 6-1 loss against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, will start his 67th game.

Schneider is 1-3-1 with a 2.41 GAA and .908 save percentage in six games against the Rangers.

"I'm definitely not happy, myself," Schneider said. "We're not happy with anything about that game [on Saturday] so I am looking forward to playing again and getting another chance at them."

The Devils, who will miss qualifying for the playoffs a third straight season, close out their schedule in Florida with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, and the Florida Panthers and former teammate Jaromir Jagr on Saturday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - J.T. Miller

Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - Martin St. Louis

James Sheppard - Dominic Moore - Tanner Glass

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle - Matt Hunwick

Cam Talbot

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: None

Injured: Kevin Klein (arm), Mats Zuccarello (soreness)


Adam Henrique - Scott Gomez - Steve Bernier

Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jordin Tootoo

Stefan Matteau - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus

Reid Boucher - Jacob Josefson - Tuomo Ruutu

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Mark Fraser - Damon Severson

Jon Merrill - Eric Gelinas

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Peter Harrold, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat

Injured: Bryce Salvador (back), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Stephen Gionta (lower back)

Status report: Gionta skated with Havlat and Ryder during the Devils optional skate on Tuesday. Gionta said he hasn't been told whether or not he will travel with the team to Florida for the final two games of the regular season. … Klein had X-rays taken on his arm. "Everything is coming along fine," coach Alain Vigneault said. Klein, Sheppard and Talbot were the only players on the ice during the morning skate for the Rangers, who defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Sheppard will play for Zuccarello, who Vigneault said has overall body soreness.

Who's hot: Stepan has three goals and nine points in the past eight games. … Schneider is 14-12-6 with two shutouts, a 1.83 GAA and .934 save percentage in 33 games at Prudential Center this season.

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