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Rangers ready for visit from Thrashers

by Dave Lozo
THRASHERS (33-34-12) at RANGERS (43-32-5)


Last 10:
Atlanta 4-6-0; New York 7-2-1

Season Series:
This is the fourth and final meeting. The Thrashers have won two of three, but the teams haven't matched up since Feb. 11.

Big Story:
The Rangers' lead is back down to two points over the Hurricanes for eighth in the Eastern Conference after Carolina blanked Detroit 3-0 on Wednesday. A win becomes important to keep the pressure off the Rangers and on the Hurricanes. This will also mark the first game since Ryan Callahan was lost indefinitely after blocking a Zdeno Chara shot during the Rangers' 5-3 win against the Bruins on Monday night.
Team Scope:

It's all about pride at this point of the season and a chance to finish .500 for the first time since 2006-07 and for just the third time in the franchise's 11-year history. Defenseman Tobias Enstrom and forward Radek Dvorak won't make the trip to New York.

The Thrashers outshot the Predators 36-24 on Tuesday night but came up short in a 6-3 loss.

"We outshot them, outskated them and outplayed them," forward Nik Antropov said. "Then in a matter of minutes they got two goals at the end. It killed it. Big time. I thought we battled back a little bit. You have to give them credit and especially their goalie [Pekka Rinne]. He stood on his head and got some really nice saves."

Hours before finding out Callahan could be potentially lost for the season, the Rangers came up with their biggest win of the season. They rallied from down 3-0 midway through the second period for a stirring 5-3 victory. The winning goals were scored in a 51-second span late in the third period by Brandon Dubinsky and Michael Sauer.

That enthusiasm was quickly tempered when the news of Callahan's fractured leg was released. Still, the Rangers have been overcoming injuries all season and they'll have to do it again if they want to make the playoffs.

"You keep moving on and play," coach John Tortorella said. "Someone fills in, someone takes responsibility. You keep on playing. It's been going on all year long. Guys have stepped up. We'll handle it. They're used to it and we'll be fine."

Who's Hot:
Blake Wheeler is coming off a two-goal game for the Thrashers and has 7 goals and 8 assists in 20 games since arriving in a trade from Boston. … The Rangers' Vinny Prospal is coming off a two-goal game of his own and has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last five games.

Injury Report:
Enstrom and Dvorak are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. … Callahan (leg) is done for the rest of the regular season and likely won't return this season unless the Rangers make a deep run in the playoffs.

Stat Pack: Six of the last 10 meetings between the Thrashers and Rangers have required overtime, and five of the last nine have ended in the shootout. … The Rangers' power play is struggling after looking great for a long stretch. It's 1-for-23 the past seven games. … Henrik Lundqvist will likely make his 25th consecutive start.

Puck Drop: "Guys sacrifice their body and we haven't missed a beat. These guys go out, guys get injured, they're buying into the system. It's just the way we've played. Guys that are hurt, I've got a lot of respect for them. They're doing it the right way. It's been hard, but we've found a way to continue to play." -- Derek Stepan to reporters Tuesday after Callahan's injury was announced

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