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Rangers Return Home to Host Tampa at The Garden

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

After a successful road trip that saw the Rangers pick up three wins in four games, the Blueshirts return home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers turned in their best 60-minute effort of the trip Sunday night in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Ryan McDonagh scored twice and Derek Stepan scored his first goal in 24 games to provide the offense, and while he wasn't overworked, Antti Raanta made several big saves with the game close to secure his 14th win of the season.

The victory was the team's 25th road win of the season, which leads the NHL. No other team in the League has more than 20 road wins this season.

With Henrik Lundqvist sidelined, Raanta is expected to get the start against a Lightning team he made 38 saves in a shutout just a week ago down in Tampa. Raanta has won both games against the Lightning this season and has allowed just one goal on 70 shots.

New York is 9-2-0 this season in the second game of a back-to-back set this season, and 62-25-6 in the second game of back-to-backs since the start of the 2010-11 campaign.

The Rangers have won the last four games against Tampa Bay dating back to Dec. 30, 2015, having outscored them 15-5 in the four contests.

Monday night is the final meeting of the regular season between the two clubs, with the Rangers holding the edge in the previous two games.

The Lightning have won their two games since last Monday's loss to the Rangers, including an impressive 4-1 win over the Western Conference-leading Wild and a 3-2 win over Florida.

Tampa Bay enters Monday's contest just three points behind Toronto for the second Wild Card in the Eastern Conference.

Nikita Kucherov, the team's leader in points this season, has points in eight of his last nine games, with the only game being the shutout loss to the Rangers. He has 18 points during that stretch.

Victor Hedman has been nearly as impressive with points in 10 of his last 12 games, during which he's registered 16 points. His 58 points this season are a new career-high.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has shown no ill effects of the pressure of being the No. 1 goaltender in Tampa since the team sent Ben Bishop west to Los Angeles. The 22-year-old is 5-0-1 since the Bishop trade, and is 16-13-6 overall this season.

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