RANGERS (24-15-3) at BLUES (20-13-6)
TV: MSG (HD), FS-MW (HD)
New York 6-2-2; St. Louis 6-3-1
Second and final meeting of the regular season between these teams. Ty Conklin stopped all 27 shots he faced and Alexander Steen
scored a pair of goals, the second into an empty net, as the Blues blanked the Rangers 2-0 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 7.
Western Conference teams must look for any advantage they can get in a playoff race that is so tightly packed, and for the Blues it's the fact they've played only 39 games and have at least one game in hand (and as many as five) over each of their rivals. Of course for that to mean anything, St. Louis needs to compile some victories, which it will look to do Saturday against a playoff contender from the East.
With his NHL career all of seven games old, Mats Zuccarello
is already displaying a flair for the dramatic. After making his first career goal the overtime winner against Carolina on Wednesday, he scored the lone goal in a shootout Friday night in Dallas for a 3-2 New York victory. The Blueshirts came from behind twice on goals by Ruslan Fedotenko
and Artem Anisimov
, while Henrik Lundqvist
stopped 28 shots and all three attempts by the Stars in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"It's a great feeling to secure the victory for the team, but Hank saved the three shots so he's the big key for us today," Zuccarello said. "And all of the other guys who played a helluva road game, and grinded it out for 65 minutes, helped us get these two points."
Will the third try be the charm as St. Louis searches again for its first win in the new year? It was an uncharacteristic defensive showing for the Blues on Thursday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs. For only the second time this season, Jaroslav Halak
was pulled after giving up the first four goals and Conklin surrendered three goals on four Toronto attempts in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. David Backes
and Matt D'Agostini
each had a goal and an assist for the Blues in a losing cause.
"We did a good job of doing what we had to do to get back in the game, but it just would have been nice to finish it off," D'Agostini told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Lundqvist is 11-4-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 17 games for the Rangers. He also has assists in consecutive games. … Backes has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak for the Blues and 4 goals and 4 assists over his last six games. Steen has 3 goals and 1 assist during his own three-game points streak. D'Agostini has consecutive multi-point efforts.
New York defenseman Michal Rozsival (bruised ribs) and forward Brandon Prust
(shoulder) are day-to-day. Forwards Vinny Prospal (knee), Ryan Callahan
(hand) and Erik Christensen
(knee) are on injured reserve, while forward Derek Boogaard (shoulder) is out indefinitely.
St. Louis forward TJ Oshie is practicing with the team but still a few weeks away from returning from a broken ankle. He remains on injured reserve along with forwards David Perron
and Andy McDonald
, who suffered concussions, and Dave Scatchard, who has a lower-body injury.
The Rangers are 5-9-3 when trailing after two periods, and the 13 points they've compiled in such games leads the League. … Halak led all West goalies in All-Star voting with 143,783 votes, though it doesn't guarantee he'll make the trip to Raleigh since only one netminder is automatically assured a spot and Marc-Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh earned it with the most overall votes.
This will be New York's fifth road game in the last six overall, and the Blueshirts are shooting for a League-best 15th win away from home.