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Preview: Rangers Host Flames Tonight at The Garden

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers (25-24-5, 55 pts) vs. Flames (28-18-8, 64 pts)
7 pm; Madison Square Garden
MSG Network; ESPN 98.7 FM

The Game

The Rangers look to get back into the win column tonight against the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash scored New York's lone goal Wednesday night to get him to 16 on the season. 

Defenseman Neal Pionk will make his NHL debut after being recalled from Hartford (AHL) on Thursday to replace Brendan Smith, who the team placed on waivers. Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, is expected to get the start for New York after he was pulled midway through the second period of Wednesday's loss to the Boston Bruins.

Calgary is in the middle of a six-game road trip that's begun with two wins, including a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils Thursday night that propelled them into the third spot in the Pacific Division. 

Johnny Gaudreau leads the club with 64 points in 54 games, followed by Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk. Goaltender Mike Smith is having a strong first campaign with the Flames. While his record of 22-15-6 isn't stellar, his .922 SV% places him in the top 10 in the NHL.

Players to Watch

Pionk made the decision to assign him to Hartford at the end of training camp a difficult one. He's an offensive-minded, right-handed shot who has produced during the first half of his rookie campaign in the AHL with 17 points in 48 games, good enough for ninth among first-year blueliners.

Calgary's Monahan enters tonight's game red-hot with goals in four straight, including a two-goal effort last night against the Devils in Newark. The 23-year-old has a team-high 27 tallies this season, equalling his totals from the previous two seasons in roughly 30 fewer games. He's four shy of his career-best 31 goals during the 2014-15 season.

Say What?

"It's awesome. It's something you dream about as a kid and when you first sign the contract, it's something you think about a lot. Now that it's finally here, I'm just trying to soak it all in." - Nea Pionk

Rangers Projected Lineup

Rick Nash - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - Vinni Lettieri
J.T. Miller - David Desharnais - Jesper Fast
Cody McLeod - Peter Holland - Paul Carey

Ryan McDonagh - Neal Pionk
Brady Skjei - Steve Kampfer
Nick Holden - Tony DeAngelo

Inside the Numbers

The Rangers are 5-0-1 in their last six games against Calgary dating back to Dec. 16, 2014.

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