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Rangers still without McDonagh as they go for clinch

by Tal Pinchevsky

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh remains day-to-day with an left shoulder injury and will not play when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

McDonagh did not participate in the Rangers morning skate, meaning that if they hope to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with one point against the Senators, they'll do it without their top defenseman.

"Guys have to play in different positions than they're used to," defenseman Marc Staal said. "Guys will have to step up and get better, and hopefully we get him back sooner than later."

The Rangers also can clinch if both the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils lose, but New York would prefer to take control of its own destiny.

"Obviously we want to do that the right way, starting tonight. We want to go after the win and get that playoff spot," Staal said. "For the last few weeks, we just knew we had to keep on winning games. We've done a good job of keeping our focus from game to game. Playing well and racking up wins. Now we're one away from clinching. We're aware of that and we want to do that."

The Senators' playoff hopes are dwindling after a 7-4 loss Friday to the Montreal Canadiens in which Ottawa scored the first three goals before allowing the next seven. Ottawa sits seven points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and has five games left to play.

The Rangers are playing Friday after a four-game road trip through the West.

"Ottawa played last night, the score was not positive for them but they didn't play a bad game. They had great opportunities and got off to a good start, so we're going to have to have a strong game," coach Alain Vigneault said. "First game back from a long road trip is usually a little challenging. We've talked to our players about that and we're going to come out and be ready tonight."

The Senators did not skate Saturday. Goaltender Craig Anderson has started Ottawa's past three games, but Robin Lehner will start against New York. Forward Ales Hemsky left in the second period against Montreal with an upper-body injury, but it appears he will be in the lineup.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will start for the 11th time in the past 12 games.

If the Rangers achieve their goal of clinching Saturday, they won't have to look far to stay motivated as the regular season winds down.

"Tonight is one step, we can get that done. We want to do it on our own, we don't want to back-door it," center Brad Richards said. "Then take the next three games to try to get home ice. You've got to continuously set little goals and keep motivated as you go along."

Here are the projected lineups for the Senators and Rangers:


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky

Zack Smith - Mika Zibanejad - Chris Neil

Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mike Hoffman - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Cody Ceci - Patrick Wiercioch

Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba

Robin Lehner

Craig Anderson

Scratched: Matt Kassian

Injured: Bobby Ryan (hernia surgery), Colin Greening (lower body), Jared Cowen (lower body)


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Carl Hagelin

Brian Boyle - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Benoit Pouliot

Daniel Carcillo - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett

Raphael Diaz - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk, Ryan Haggerty

Injured: Ryan McDonagh (upper body), Chris Kreider (hand)

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