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GAME DAY: Blueshirts' Back-To-Back Crosses the Hudson

Georgie Aims to Build on Point Streak; Hughes a Question Mark

by Michael Obernauer

RANGERS at DEVILS, 1 p.m.
Prudential Center
MSG Network, 98.7 FM

GAME DAY
Having played four consecutive one-goal games -- and having taken points from all four of them -- the Rangers now set sights on their fifth game in eight days, and a second straight early one, when they visit the Devils on Saturday afternoon in their last visit to Newark of 2019-20.

The Blueshirts carry a 3-0-1 record in their last four games through the Lincoln Tunnel, with the 1 being a nationally televised overtime defeat in the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown to the League-leading Boston Bruins. The Rangers had won their last three in a row entering that game and had been finding different ways to win them, until they encountered a team that knows how to scratch out wins, too.

"It's a frustrating one, because I think we did a lot of good things," Ryan Strome said after Friday's game. "We're on a good little run here, so I don't think we want to get too down. Just draw from the good from (Friday) and move on to (Saturday). It's going to be a high-spirited game again; we'll be ready to go."

New Jersey took the first matchup between the cross-river rivals this season, in Newark back on Oct. 17 in the Rangers' fourth game of the season, which because of the quirky schedule at the time happened to be only their second game in a 12-day span. That one that was widely plugged as the first NHL matchup involving Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes. For Saturday's rematch, Hughes' status is uncertain because of an undisclosed injury -- the 18-year-old rookie, who has played in all 24 of the Devils' games this season, did not take part in their practice on Friday.

Hughes is one of four players age 21 or younger to play for the Devils this season; the Rangers, including Kakko, have had an NHL-high eight, and on Friday another of them, Filip Chytil, scored his eighth goal of the year in just his 15th game. That places Chytil third in the NHL in goals among players 20 or younger; the players in front of him, Carolina's Andrei Svechnikov (11) and Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk (nine), each has 11 more games under their belts than Chytil this season.

Saturday's game will be Chytil's 100th in the NHL.

David Quinn will hand Alexandar Georgiev his 49th NHL start on Saturday after Henrik Lundqvist made his third straight on Friday afternoon. It will be Georgiev's first start since a week earlier at the Bell Centre, when he battled admirably through a rough start in a frenzied building to stop 22 of the Canadiens' final 23 shots on goal and backstop the Rangers' captivating comeback to a 6-5 victory.

"A huge mental win for our team," Georgiev called it that night, "and I was just super excited to get the W, because that's all that matters in the end." The 23-year-old netminder has earned a W in four of his last six starts.

He figures to be opposed by Mackenzie Blackwood, who picked up his own victory in Montreal his last time out, with a career-high 44 saves on 48 shots on Thanksgiving night. Blackwood, who has his 23rd birthday a week from Monday, has won both his career starts against the Blueshirts, including a 29-save outing on Oct. 17.

The Rangers will wear Blue for Saturday's game, while the Devils play in their throwback whites with green pants and trim. The last time this color scheme occurred at the Rock, back on Jan. 31, Mika Zibanejad scored a hat trick in a 4-3 Ranger win.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

RANGERS
20 Kreider -- 93 Zibanejad -- 89 Buchnevich
10 Panarin -- 72 Chytil -- 16 Strome
48 Lemieux -- 21 Howden -- 24 Kakko
42 Smith -- 15 Nieves -- 17 Fast

76 Skjei -- 8 Trouba
55 Lindgren -- 23 Fox
25 Hajek -- 77 DeAngelo

40 Georgiev
30 Lundqvist

DEVILS
9 Hall -- 13 Hischier -- 21 Palmieri
90 Boqvist -- 86 Hughes -- 17 Simmonds
20 Coleman -- 19 Zajac -- 97 Gusev
44 Wood -- 37 Zacha -- 63 Bratt

6 Greene -- 28 Severson
45 Vatanen -- 76 Subban
8 Butcher -- 7 Tennyson

29 Blackwood
70 Domingue


NUMBERS GAME

The Rangers have a plus-8 goal differential in third periods, tied for fourth in the NHL; the Devils are minus-16 in the third, 30th in the League.

In the Rangers' 12 wins, 10 different players have scored the game-winning goal, most in the NHL.

Filip Chytil scored his eighth goal of the season in his 15th game on Friday -- all eight of his goals have come at even strength, tops on the Rangers and tied for the most among NHL players age 20 or younger.

Artemi Panarin's assist on Friday was his 23rd point this month, a Rangers record for November -- eclipsing Jean Ratelle's 22 in November 1971 -- and the most by any Blueshirt in one calendar month since Jaromir Jagr had 23 in March of 2006.

Saturday's game closes out the Rangers' November schedule in 2019-20. They are 8-4-2 this month, and dating to the 2005-06 season they lead the NHL in November wins, with a record of 119-61-13.

New Jersey, coming off its 6-4 win in Montreal on Thursday, has had back-to-back regulation wins only once this season. 

Nikita Gusev had three assists in Montreal, all primary assists, for his first multi-point night in his 21st NHL game. The 27-year-old former KHL teammate of Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shesterkin has 5-6--11 with the Devils this season.

The Devils had 57 shot attempts in Thursday's win to the Canadiens' 90.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ryan Strome has faced the Devils five times as a Ranger, with four goals and six points. His nine career goals against the Devils are his most against any opponent. With 6-16--22, Strome is the Rangers' second-leading scorer this season behind Artemi Panarin.

Blake Coleman had his first career four-point game (two goals, two assists) on Thursday night in Montreal. The Texas-born winger, who scored 22 times in 78 games a year ago, is tied this season with Kyle Palmieri for the Devils' lead in goals with nine.

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