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Rangers Open Homestand Against Flames

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers begin a four-game homestand Sunday afternoon against the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden.

New York is coming off a 2-1 overtime win in Buffalo Thursday night on a game-winner by Chris Kreider. The Rangers snapped a power play drought in the process on Mats Zuccarello's second period game, and Henrik Lundqvist was superb in a 36-save performance in the victory.

Lundqvist will get his eighth straight start Sunday afternoon against Calgary. He's 4-1 against Calgary with a 2.33 GAA and a .921 SV% in his last five appearances dating back to Oct. 20, 2011.

The Rangers have struggled of late at home, going 1-5 in the month of January at The Garden. But Sunday's matchup with the Flames begins a crucial stretch of games at home this week, and the Rangers know they must be better on home ice.

"We need to take it one game, one period at a time," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "The focus has to be tomorrow [against] Calgary. I saw them play last night. They played a real strong game, real uptempo. D's joining the rush, so it's going to be a real good challenge for us."

Sunday is the second of two meetings between the Rangers and Flames, with the Rangers taking the first match 4-1 in Calgary back on Nov. 12.

Calgary enters today's game in the wild card hunt in the Western Conference. The Flames are riding a three-game winning streak, most recently with a 4-3 win over New Jersey Friday night.

Mikael Backlund leads the team with 35 points in 54 games this season, while youngster Sean Monahan leads the squad with 19 goals. Rising star Johnny Gaudreau has 34 points in 44 games, though he's a minus-16.

Calgary has struggled defensively this season, allowing 153 goals in 54 games this season, which is sixth worst in the Western Conference and the worst among the conference's current playoff teams.

Brian Elliott, whom the Flames acquired last offseason to be the No. 1 goalie, has struggled during his first season in Calgary, going 11-12-2 with a 2.80 GAA and a .896 SV%. Elliott has been playing better as of late and is riding a three-game winning streak.

Former Ranger Chad Johnson has played well for the Flames this season, going 16-12-1.

Rangers (32-18-1, 65 points) vs. Flames (27-24-3, 57 pts)

2 pm at Madison Square Garden

Live coverage begins at 1:30 pm on MSG Network

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