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Rangers Face Senators in Final Road Game of Season

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers hit the road for the final time in the 2016-17 regular season with an afternoon matchup against the Senators in Ottawa.

New York is coming off a 2-0 loss Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals that saw six regulars not dress. The loss locked the Rangers into a first-round meeting with the Montreal Canadiens, and thus rendering the final two games of the regular season meaningless as far as the postseason is concerned.

All six of those players practiced Friday, though the big story was the return of Ryan McDonagh, who has missed the last three with an undisclosed injury. And while his return to practice was a positive sign, the captain will not play against the Senators, though he's hopeful for a return Sunday night against Pittsburgh.

Coach Alain Vigneault said he was unsure of other lineup changes.

Henrik Lundqvist will make his final start of the season, as Vigneault said Antti Raanta will play Sunday. Ottawa is one of the few NHL teams Lundqvist has struggled to earn victories against in his career, posting a 15-17-3 record, though the underlying numbers of a 2.08 GAA and a .931 SV% with one shutout are strong. He's allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last five games against Ottawa, with three resulting in victories.

Saturday marks the first trip back to Ottawa for forward Mika Zibanejad, whom the Rangers acquired last summer from the Senators. Zibanejad spent parts of five seasons with the Senators, who selected him sixth overall in 2011.

The two teams have split the first two meetings of the season, both at Madison Square Garden. New York took the most recent tilt, 4-3, back on Dec. 27. Derek Stepan and Nick Holden each have two goals in the season series.

New York is 7-4-0 in their last 11 against the Senators dating back to Jan. 18, 2014.

Ottawa punched its ticket to the postseason Thursday night with a shootout win over the Boston Bruins. The Senators, though, are still battling for playoff positioning with the Bruins, their expected first-round opponent.

Defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the team with 71 points in 77 games this year, though he's been in and out of the lineup as of late, including missing Thursday's game in Boston due to injury.

Kyle Turris leads the team with 27 goals, and Mike Hoffman is second on the team in points with 60.

Craig Anderson got the start and the victory over the Bruins to improve to 24-11-4 on the season. Backup Mike Condon has played well after joining the club earlier in the year and is 19-13-6. Both netminders have five shutouts.

A road victory for New York would match the franchise's best at 28, which it posted during the 2014-15 campaign.

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