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New York Rangers (18-8-4) at Nashville Predators (18-4-3)
Thursday, 8 p.m. EST

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The Nashville Predators look to extend their winning streak to five games as they host the New York Rangers at Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Nashville, which made the playoffs for the first time in the 2003-04 season, is determined to return to the postseason.

Based on their current play, the Predators appear to be on the right track.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored two power-play goals in leading the Predators to a 5-2 victory Wednesday over the Washington Capitals, continuing the club's impressive play on special teams.

Nashville, which converted 3 of 6 opportunities with the man advantage, has scored at least one power-play goal in 11 straight games.

"Special teams are going to be the difference in hockey games in this new NHL, and for us the power play has been good," said Steve Sullivan, who also scored a power-play goal Wednesday. "If you look at the score sheet, that was the difference. Our power play was able to be successful."

The Predators have 39 points, one behind Western Conference leader Detroit. Nashville has won six of seven and 10 of 12 after a five-game winless streak.

"We moved the puck well, and our power play was good," Paul Kariya said. "The most we play together, the better off we're going to be."

The Rangers are looking to bounce back from a rare loss, a 2-1 overtime defeat Wednesday to the Chicago Blackhawks that was just their second loss in the last nine games.

New York was hurt by its power play, failing to score on nine chances, and is 4-for-43 over the last eight games with the man advantage.

"I don't think we brought the puck up with any purpose or intensity," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "As you get frustrated with the power play and things go on, you start to try to manufacture things that aren't there."

The Rangers did pick up a point with the overtime loss and extended their lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Division to four points. New York and the Ottawa Senators are the only teams in the Eastern Conference with 40 or more points.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 6): Rangers - 39 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Predators - 37 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jaromir Jagr, 21 goals and 43 points; Martin Straka, 23 assists; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 40 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 11 goals; Kariya and Kimmo Timonen, 15 assists; Kariya, 24 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 78 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 8): Rangers - Power play: 17.5 percent (30 for 171), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87 percent (161 for 185), 2nd. Predators - Power play: 17.9 percent (28 for 156), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.5 percent (141 for 163), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist (11-4-3, 1 SO, 2.12 GAA); Kevin Weekes (7-4-0, 0, 2.79). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (15-4-2, 1, 2.40); Chris Mason (3-0-1, 0, 2.67).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Predators, 2-0-0.

LAST MEETING: March 26, 2004; Predators, 4-2. At Nashviille, Scott Walker moved into first place on the Predators' career scoring list with his 227th point in the victory over New York, just two nights after scoring his 100th career goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 8-6-2 on the road; Predators - 13-2-0 at home.

- Associated Press
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