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Rangers make rare visit to Nashville

by Brian Hunter

RANGERS (13-10-1) at PREDATORS (9-8-4)

TV -- MSG (HD), FS-Tennessee (HD)

Last 10 --
New York 6-4-0; Nashville 4-5-1

Season series
-- This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these clubs. Jordin Tootoo and Colin Wilson scored goals in Nashville's 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden in the most recent matchup on Feb. 10. Vinny Prospal had New York's lone tally.

Big story
-- Nashville hasn't been scoring goals lately -- just three during its current three-game losing streak -- and Henrik Lundqvist made sure New York didn't allow any in its 3-0 win at Florida on Friday night, making 40 saves and recording his 27th career shutout.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- While it's doubtful anyone associated with the Blueshirts was overly concerned about the man they call "King Henrik," it still had to be nice to see Lundqvist at the top of his game after he allowed a total of 11 goals and posted an .843 save percentage in losing his previous three starts. Derek Stepan scored midway through the first period Friday and that's all Lundqvist would need in what eventually became a 3-0 win over the Panthers.

"We needed him tonight," coach John Tortorella said. "He played very well. We've gotta gut this out right here. I think we're a tired team from the number of games and travel we've gone through. It certainly was important the way Hank played tonight."

Predators -- Friday's 5-2 loss to Minnesota marked the first time in five games Nashville allowed more than two goals. Even though scoring has been a struggle for the Predators, their defense and goaltending were keeping them in games, though that wasn't the case against the Wild. Minnesota chased goalie Pekka Rinne after one period and led 4-0 after two, rendering third-period power-play goals by Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat as little more than window dressing.

"One of our strengths in our six D. I thought they had a real average game today," coach Barry Trotz said. "They buried their chances, but they shouldn't have happened as easy as they did."

Who's hot -- Stepan has 3 goals and 4 assists during a six-game points streak for the Rangers. … Sullivan leads the Predators with 6 goals and 3 power-play goals.

Injury report
-- Prospal (knee) and Chris Drury (broken finger) remain on injured reserve for New York, while Michal Rozsival and Derek Boogaard are day-to-day with shoulder injuries. … Nashville has Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and David Legwand (lower body) on injured reserve.

Stat pack -- The Rangers have been receiving strong play from their special teams of late, scoring a power-play goal in four-straight games and operating at a 30.8-percent clip while killing off penalties at a 90.5-percent success rate over the last 12 games. … The Predators are 4-8-1 since getting off to a 5-0-3 start.

Puck drop --
Lundqvist was able to work on his mechanics a little while watching backup Martin Biron start consecutive games, and it seems to have paid off.

"I changed my stance a little bit," he said. "I came back to how I used to play (with) a little bit higher stance, and my timing was better."

Ex-teammate Chris Higgins, who now plays for Florida, wasn't exactly shocked by Lundqvist's performance Friday.

"He's a top-three goalie in the League, for sure," Higgins said. "It's not really a shock that he played that well. I wish he was off his game a little bit, though."

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