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Rangers look to cool off Stamkos and Lightning

by Eric Goodman
RANGERS (12-9-1) at LIGHTNING (12-7-2)
TV -- MSG 2, SUN (HD)

Last 10 --
New York 6-4-0; Tampa Bay 5-5-0

Season series --
This is the first of four games between the Rangers and Lightning this season. The Rangers managed a 3-1-0 record against the Bolts in 2009-10 with an 18-4 goal differential in New York's three victories. New York is also 10-3-0 in its last 13 games against Tampa Bay.

Big Story -- Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in net for the Rangers on Wednesday, so this game will feature one of the NHL's most talented goaltenders going head up with the Bolts' Steven Stamkos, who leads the League with 20 goals and is tied with the Penguins' Sidney Crosby for most points in the NHL at 35.

Team Scope:
Rangers -- The Blueshirts aim for three wins in a row as they embark on a brief three-game road trip through Tampa, Sunrise and Nashville.

New York established a physical presence in its 2-1 win at home on Monday against Calgary and it was that exact type of rough-and-tough play that led to the game-winning power-play tally by defenseman Dan Girardi midway through the second period. The penalty which gave the Rangers that power-play opportunity came after Ryan Callahan checked bruising defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hard to the ice and then Bouwmeester's teammate Curtis Glencross took a high-sticking call in coming to his defense.

"That's part of Cally's game, and that's what he's great at," Girardi told after the game. "He may not get credit for it, but he's a big part of that goal, for sure."

Lightning -- Tampa Bay will try for its fifth straight win after a solid 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday. Stamkos tallied his 20th goal in that game and led all skaters with six shots on goal. However, there hasn't been much other scoring to speak of other than from Stamkos' linemate Martin St. Louis, who is second on the club with 8 goals. But the lack of a more balanced scoring attack hasn't slowed the Lightning down much, as their 26 points is good for fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.

"It's nice," Stamkos told's Peter Pupello of hitting the 20-goal mark. "But I just want to keep going. I just want to chip in offensively whenever I can to help this team win games. However many goals you get, it doesn't matter, as long as you're helping the team win."

Who's Hot -- While it's likely he won't play Wednesday, Rangers backup goalie Martin Biron is riding a four-game winning streak and is 5-2-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average this season. … For the Lightning, Stamkos is pretty much the hottest hockey player on the planet right now. The third-year center has managed points in all but three of his 21 games this season, including eight points (5g, 3a) over the last five games.

Injury Report -- The Rangers are without Vinny Prospal (knee), Chris Drury (finger) and Michal Rozsival (shoulder). … For the Bolts, captain Vincent Lecavalier is on injured reserve (hand), but coach Guy Boucher said that left wing Simon Gagne could return to the lineup. Gagne missed 15 straight games due to a neck injury.

Stat Pack --
Tampa Bay's top line of Stamkos, St. Louis and Steve Downie has accounted for 31 of the Lightning's 65 goals so far this season.

Puck Drop -- Stamkos has been so spectacular this season that even opposing coaches must give him due praise.

"What more can you say about Stamkos?" Boston coach Claude Julien said after Monday's game. "He's on fire. Give him an opportunity and he's going to take advantage of it."

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