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Rangers Host Stars at The Garden

Zibanejad Expected to Return for Injury

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers return home to face the Dallas Stars and they'll have a big piece of their puzzle back in the lineup.

Center Mika Zibanejad is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last 25 games with a broken fibula, which he suffered back on Nov. 20 against Florida. Zibanejad had five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 19 games prior to the injury.

His return comes at a crucial time for New York, who have lost back-to-back games to Toronto and Montreal. The Blueshirts surrendered a third period lead Saturday night in a 5-4 loss to the Canadiens in which Montreal scored 3 goals in 62 seconds.

Goaltender Antti Raanta started the game but left after the first period with a lower body injury. Head coach Alain Vigneault said on Monday that the netminder is expected to miss 7-to-10 days. The Rangers on Monday recalled goaltender Magnus Hellberg from Hartford (AHL).

Henrik Lundqvist will get the start after allowing all five goals on Saturday night.

With the exception of Matt Puempel, the Rangers are fully healthy at forward for the first time since Nov. 12 when Pavel Buchnevich last played before he missed two months with a back issue. At that time, the Rangers were 11-4-0 and had scored at least three goals in seven consecutive games.

Tuesday marks the second and final meeting between Dallas and the Rangers this season. New York topped the Stars 2-0 back on Dec. 15 when Raanta and Henrik Lundqvist combined for the first shared shutout in team history. Rick Nash scored the game-winner on a shorthanded goal in the third period.

The Stars come into tonight's game losers of two straight, most recently with a 4-1 loss to Buffalo Monday afternoon. Dallas is 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and currently sit four points out of the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Unsurprisingly, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn sit atop the Stars' scoring list at 43 and 35 points, respectively. Seguin leads the team in both goals (16) and assists (27), while Benn is second in assists with 25.

Defenseman John Klingberg struggled out of the gate but has turned his production up as of late with eight points in his last seven games.

Dallas' goaltending duo of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi has been subpar this season. Lehtonen is 9-12-4 with a 2.88 GAA and a .898 SV%, while Niemi is 9-7-4 with a 2.98 GAA and a .907 SV%. Niemi is expected to get the start after Lehtonen started Monday afternoon's game against the Sabres.

Despite the firepower up front, Dallas has struggled with the man advantage. They enter Tuesday's game with the 21st-ranked power play at 16.9 percent. They're last in the NHL on the penalty kill, converting on just 74.3 percent of their chances.

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