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Homestand Continues for Rangers Against Canucks

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (12-9-2, 26 pts) vs Canucks (11-9-3, 25 pts)
2 pm, Madison Square Garden
MSG Network; WNBM 103.9 FM

The Game

The Rangers continue their four-game homestand Sunday afternoon with a matinee matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden.

New York edged Detroit, 2-1, in overtime Friday night in what could only be described as one of the best goaltending duels of the season. Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Howard combined for 69 saves, though it was Lundqvist and his 40 saves who outlasted Howard. Chris Kreider tied the game in the third before Mats Zuccarello won it in the opening minute of the extra period.

Forward Boo Nieves left the game after the first period with a hip pointer, and will be unavailable Sunday against Vancouver. David Desharnais rejoins the lineup and will slot into Nieves' spot between Jimmy Vesey and Paul Carey.

No other lineup changes are expected, with Ryan McDonagh set to miss his third straight game with a strained abdomen muscle.

New York and Vancouver meet for the first time this season, with the second and final coming out west in February.

The Canucks find themselves in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference at the quarter mark of the regular season, and currently sit tied in points with both Chicago and Minnesota for the second Wild Card position with 25 points.

Vancouver is in the middle of a six-game road trip through the Metropolitan Division and a stop in Nashville late next week. The Canucks won the first two games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before dropping a 3-2 decision Friday in New Jersey.

Rookie Brock Boeser is leading the way offensively with 22 points in 20 games, second-most in among rookies in the NHL. Bo Horvat has 17 points while the ageless wonders Daniel and Henrik Sedin have 12 and 11 points, respectively, in 23 games thus far.

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom has gotten the majority of the workload thus far and is 6-8-2 with a 2.62 GAA and a .911 SV%. But goaltender Anders Nilsson has posted the better numbers, with a 5-1-1 record and a 2.25 GAA and a .934 SV% to go with two shutouts. 

The Rangers have had their way with Vancouver over the last handful of seasons, and have at least one point in eight of their last 10 games against Vancouver.

Players to Watch

Pavel Buchnevich posted his first career multi-point game in the NHL last season against the Canucks, and has been one of the hotter Rangers as of late. Buchnevich had the lone assist on Kreider's game-tying goal Friday night against the Red Wings.

Boeser enters Sunday's matchup against the Rangers on a six-game point streak that included a four-game goal streak that saw the 20-year-old register six goals during that span. Boeser has three multi-point games this season and trails just the Islanders' Mat Barzal in the rookie scoring race.

Rangers Projected Lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Michael Grabner - J.T. Miller - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - Paul Carey

Brady Skjei - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brendan Smith - Nick Holden
Marc Staal - Steven Kampfer

Injuries: Ryan McDonagh (sprained abdomen), Boo Nieves (hip pointer)

Inside the Numbers

Since joining the Rangers prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, Nash has tallied 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in eight games against the Canucks. He has posted three multi-assist/point games over the eight contests and has recorded at least one point in six of the eight games.

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