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Rangers Return Indoors to Take on Blackhawks at MSG

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (21-13-5, 47 pts) vs Blackhawks (18-14-6, 42 pts)
8 pm; Madison Square Garden

The Game

The Rangers return home - and indoors - to take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts are coming off a 3-2 overtime win in the 2018 NHL Winter Classic over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. J.T. Miller scored the game-winning goal while Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves to improve to 4-0 in outdoor games.

Coach Alain Vigneault did not make any personnel changes to his lineup, but did make one minor tweak, swapping Rick Nash and J.T. Miller. Nash will line up with Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner, while Miller shifts to a line with Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello.

Lundqvist is expected to get the start in goal.

Tonight is the second and final meeting between the Rangers and Blackhawks. The two teams met on Nov. 15 in Chicago with the hosts walking away with a 6-3 victory. Nash had a goal and an assist that night while Hayes and Zibanejad each had goals.

Chicago is uncharacteristically outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, four points behind Anaheim for the second Wild Card slot, and nine points behind Nashville for third in the Central Division.

The Blackhawks are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on New Year's Eve.

Patrick Kane is leading the way with 38 points in 38 games, while rookie Alex DeBrincat is second in goals with 13 and points with 25. Captain Jonathan Toews has 24 points through 38 games.

Goaltender Corey Crawford is sidelined with an injury, opening the door for 32-year-old rookie Jeff Glass to make his NHL debut. He's 1-0-1 in two games.

Players to Watch

Nash produced in the first game between these two teams back in November, and the Blackhawks have been a team No. 61 has had success against throughout his illustrious career. Nash has 26 goals and 54 points in 61 games against Chicago. His 28 assists and 54 points is most against any team in his career.

Glass has played just about everywhere on his journey to the NHL. The netminder spent last season in the American Hockey League following two separate stints in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. Glass as a highly touted prospects and was selected in the third round in 2004 by Ottawa, and represented Canada at the World Junior Championship that year.

Say What?

"I'm happy we've got an Original Six team coming in like Chicago. With their skill set, their reputation that they bring to the table, it should have everyone's attention. There's no doubt that yesterday's game was a special game and a special event." - coach Alain Vigneault on facing the Blackhawks following the Winter Classic.

Rangers Projected Lineup

J.T. Miller - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - Rick Nash
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - Pavel Buchnevich
Paul Carey - Boo Nieves - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Nick Holden
Brendan Smith - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Marc Staal

Inside the Numbers

Since Dec. 11, 2002, 15 of 19 games between the Rangers and Blackhawks have been decided by one goal or fewer, and 18 of the 19 games have been decided by two goals or fewer. Since Nov. 16, 1995, 28 of 31 meetings between New York and Chicago have been decided by two or fewer goals.

The Rangers have earned at least one point in 12 of their last 18 contests against Chicago, dating back to Nov. 16, 2003 (9-6-1-2 record over the span).

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