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Lundqvist Seeks 'Better Performance' in Columbus

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist will be right back between the pipes, starting in goal tonight when the Rangers try and lock down a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference when they skate against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

Lundqvist played just 20:46 on Saturday, allowing three goals on nine shots before being replaced by Antti Raanta in the eventual 4-3 home-ice loss to the Buffalo Sabres.This will be his fourth consecutive start and eighth in the past nine games in which he has posted a 2-3-2 record with one no-decision.

"You want to come back and have a better performance, and you want to win most of all," Lundqvist said following the team's morning skate at Nationwide Arena. "I want to come back tonight with a strong performance."

The Rangers are winless in their past three games (0-2-1) and enter the final week of the regular season still looking to clinch their sixth consecutive berth in the post-season. After tonight the Rangers have three games remaining on their schedule, all at home, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings.

"Let's not focus too much on things that are going on around us, like the standings or whatever," stated Lundqvist. "We need to just focus on the game here and focus on that. I think we're looking to have a really strong game, to put everything out there, and we'll see how far that takes us."

Lundqvist will be appearing in his 63rd game of the season tonight. He is 33-20-7 this year with a 2.48 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has not indicated if Lundqvist or Raanta will make the start Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Lightning, the second game of a back-to-back.

Vigneault's focus was solely on tonight's contest against a Blue Jackets team--coached by John Tortorella--that has long been out of the playoff picture, but which would love to throw a wrench in the Rangers post-season plans.

"Obviously this team is going to be ready to play, and play us hard," Vigneault said of the Blue Jackets. "We're going to need to have a real good game. At the end of the day this is a game where we need results."

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There will be no lineup changes again for the Rangers, meaning that Oscar Lindberg will be scratched for the tenth consecutive game and that Dylan McIlrath again will be the healthy scratch on defense.

The lines and defense pairings will also remain the same.

Columbus will be countering with rookie Joonas Korpisalo in goal this evening.

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