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Preview: Rangers Look to Rebound With Matchup Against Panthers

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers (30-32-6, 66 pts) at Panthers (33-25-7, 73 pts)
7 pm; BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL.
MSG Network; ESPN 98.7 FM

The Game

The Rangers wrap up their quick road trip through Florida tonight when they take on the Panthers in Sunrise.

New York is coming off a 5-3 loss Thursday night in Tampa that snapped their three-game winning streak. The Blueshirts fell behind 5-1, but made a game of it in the third with two goals by Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes to make a two-goal game.

Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed four goals on 31 shots against the Lightning before giving way to Alexanadar Georgiev, will make the start against the Panthers.

Forward Chris Kreider, who left the game after the first period following a hit to the head, is questionable to play, though he practiced on Friday.

 

The two teams split the first two games of the season series, with both being decided by one goal. New York got the better of the Panthers in the only game in Florida this season, with Florida taking the previous meeting back in November at The Garden.

The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with seven wins in their last 10, including a 5-0 victory on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, to get them within three points of the second wild card spot in the East with three games in hand on New Jersey.

Aleksander Barkov leads the team with 68 points in 65 games, while Vincent Trocheck has a team-high 26 goals in 65 games this season. Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov have 59 and 51 points, respectively, to give the Cats four players with more than 50 points this season.

Goaltender Roberto Luonog is 13-7-2 this season with a 2.50 GAA and a .930 SV% and two shutouts. He has just one regulation loss in his last 11 starts dating back to Dec. 1.

Players to Watch

Vlad Namestnikov has tallied a goal/point in all three games he has played against Florida this season (three goals, two assists), and he has posted a multi-point game in each of his last two contests against the Panthers.

Barkov enters play on an eight-game point streak, including three straight multi-point performances. He has 14 points during that stretch and 21 in his last 13 games.

Rangers Lines from Friday's Practice

Vlad Namestnikov - Mika Zibanejad - Jesper Fast 
Ryan Spooner - Kevin Hayes - Mats Zuccarello 
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - Pavel Buchnevich 
Cody McLeod - Peter Holland - Paul Carey

Brady Skjei - Tony DeAngelo 
Marc Staal - Neal Pionk
Rob O'Gara - John Gilmour

Inside the Numbers

Six of the last nine meetings between the Rangers and Panthers have been decided by one goal. In addition, four of the last eight meetings between the two teams, including two of the last three meetings, have been decided in either overtime or a shootout.

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