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Rangers' Pouliot back after birth of daughter

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The New York Rangers are rested and expected to go with the same lineup used in an 8-4 defeat of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

That includes forward Benoit Pouliot, who left after the game in Ottawa to be present for the birth of his daughter. He rejoined the Rangers for the optional skate Friday morning and coach Alain Vigneault said Pouliot would be in the lineup.

It could be a different tale for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Thursday and returned from Canada in the early hours Friday.

The Blue Jackets did not have a morning skate and there was no media availability, but coach Todd Richards likely will start goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in this key Metropolitan Division game after he made 25 saves Thursday against the Canadiens.

He did that in a similar situation March 3-4 when the Blue Jackets won at the Toronto Maple Leafs and defeated the Dallas Stars the next night in Nationwide Arena. Bobrovsky has started 16 straight games.

Richards may make some changes to his forward lines. For the Montreal game he made right wing RJ Umberger a healthy scratch for the first time in his Columbus career and inserted Cam Atkinson, who had been benched in three of the previous five games.

If Richards is looking for fresh legs he might turn to forward Jared Boll, who was activated Wednesday after missing 45 games with a torn ligament in his left ankle. Boll did not play against the Canadiens.

In addition to the game being the first in Columbus for Rangers left wing Rick Nash since being traded to New York in July 2012, it has Stanley Cup Playoff implications.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers are tied with 78 points, but Columbus is third in the Metropolitan Division by virtue of having played one fewer game. The Rangers own the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We've got a real tough opponent, probably one of the hardest working and highest compete level teams in the League," Vigneault said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Brad Richards - Carl Hagelin

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Daniel Carcillo

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk, Derek Dorsett, Raphael Diaz, Ryan Haggerty


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nathan Horton

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Corey Tropp

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: RJ Umberger, Nick Schultz, Matt Frattin, Jared Boll

Injured: Ryan Murray (knee)

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