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Rangers take aim again at wrapping up playoff berth

by Dave Lozo /

RANGERS (24-18-4) at HURRICANES (19-24-3)


Last 10: New York 6-3-1; Carolina 3-6-1

Season series: This is the third and final meeting between the clubs. The New York Rangers are going for a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Big story: If the Rangers win, they clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's that simple. The Winnipeg Jets will host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in a game that will start one hour later. The Rangers can also clinch a playoff spot if the Jets lose in regulation.

Team Scope:

Rangers: Everything set up perfectly for the Rangers on Tuesday night in Florida. They were facing the League's 30th-place team, which was missing a host of key players. All the Rangers needed to do was pick up two points and a playoff berth was theirs, but they wound up on the losing end of a 3-2 score.

"Our goal and our focus right now is just to get in and I don't care how we do it," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was outdueled by Jakob Markstrom and his 38 saves. "I don't mind getting help. That's always a good thing. Let's just focus on the next one and see where that takes us."

Hurricanes: With nothing to play for but pride, Carolina put forth a strong effort in a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders, who still managed to clinch a playoff spot by pushing the game past regulation to earn a point.

"We're starting to find our identity, and that's important going into next year," goaltender Dan Ellis said. "For us to come up with big games against teams that are going to be in our division next year, it was a great effort. We really started to get our work boots on, play a smarter brand of hockey and we did really well tonight and got a big win."

Who's hot: Rangers center Brad Richards has four goals and eight points in his past four games.

Injury report: New York forward Brian Boyle (lower body) is likely out, in addition to forward Derek Dorsett (collarbone) and defenseman Marc Staal (right eye). … Goalie Cam Ward (knee), defenseman Joni Pitkanen (heel) and forwards Tim Brent (lower body) and Drayson Bowman (upper body) are out for Carolina.

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