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Girardi Out Against Islanders

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

The Rangers will face the Islanders tonight at The Garden in a crucial late-season contest, and will do so without two of their top four defenseman. Dan Girardi will join Ryan McDonagh on the sidelines as the third-place Rangers look to gain ground on the second place Pittsburgh Penguins, who are three points ahead in the Metropolitan Division.

Girardi has been ruled out of tonight's game with an upper body injury suffered in the final minutes of Tuesday's 3-2 home-ice win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The veteran defenseman is listed as day to day after being checked hard into the boards by former teammate Brian Boyle.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said he was unsure if Girardi would be able to play in Saturday's regular season finale against the Detroit Red Wings at MSG.

Girardi has appeared in 74 games this season while recording 17 points and posting a +18 plus/minus mark which is second-best on the team. He also leads the Rangers--and ranks fourth in the entire NHL--with 195 blocked shots. Girardi is one of only four players in the league this season with at least 150 blocked shots and 150 hits, joining the Kings' Alec Martinez, Shea Weber of the Predators, and Radko Gudas of the Flyers.

McDonagh, meanwhile, will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper body injury suffered in Monday's 4-2 victory down in Columbus. He is listed as out indefinitely.

"It's up to all of us to pick up the slack with those guys out of the lineup," said defenseman Keith Yandle. "We're going to miss Mac and G, so it will take a total team effort to get the job done tonight."

Veteran Dan Boyle, who was given the night off to rest on Tuesday, will be back in the Rangers lineup tonight against the Islanders; and both rookie defensemen--Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath--will play, as well.

Skjei logged more than 16 minutes worth of ice-time while skating in his fifth NHL contest on Tuesday, while McIlrath was a +2, playing more than 12 minutes, Tuesday in his first game action since suffering a knee injury against the Isles back on March 6.

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Kevin Hayes draws back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch Tuesday. Vigneault has said that Hayes has been playing well of late, forming chemistry with Eric Staal and Jesper Fast on the third line, but wanted to get Lindberg in a game before the playoffs after the Swedish rookie had been a healthy scratch for ten straight games.

Lindberg saw very limited action against the Lightning, playing just 6 minutes 3 seconds. Hayes was scratched Tuesday for only the third time this season.

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Henrik Lundqvist makes his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Rangers tonight. Lundqvist has stopped 66 of 70 shots in the back-to-back wins over the Blue Jackets and Lightning this week and has 35 victories this season--the seventh time in his career he has won that many in a single season.

Despite a regulation loss and a shootout defeat in two starts again the Islanders this season, Lundqvist is 29-16-6 with a 2.19 GAA, .922 save percentage and five shutouts in 52 career appearances against the Isles.

He will be opposed by Thomas Greiss in the opposite net. Greiss has won each of his last three starts and has a solid year with a 22-11-4 record, 2.37 GAA, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 39 appearances for the Islanders.

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