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Rangers Take Winning Streak into Matchup With Panthers

Blueshirts have won four straight and eight in a row at home

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (13-9-2, 28 pts) vs. Panthers (9-12-2, 20 points)

7 pm, Madison Square Garden

MSG Network; ESPN 98.7 FM

The Game

The Rangers bring their four-game winning streak (and eight in a row at home) into Tuesday's contest against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

New York is coming off a dramatic, 4-3 shootout win Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks that saw Jimmy Vesey tie the game in the third period before winning the game in the seventh round of the shootout.

Jesper Fast and Michael Grabner also scored while Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves for his 12th victory of the year.

With the team off on Monday, the Rangers' starter is an unknown. Lundqvist has started the previous 12 games, with backup Ondrej Pavelec last starting back on Oct. 28 in Montreal. 

Like the goaltending situation, any lineup changes are an unknown. Boo Nieves took warmups Sunday but ultimately did not play due to a hip pointer. Alain Vigneault called him day-to-day on Saturday, with Nieves believing he could play through the injury. Vigneault, though, opted for David Desharnais in place of Nieves.

Ryan McDonagh is expected to miss his fourth straight game with a strained abdomen. An update on his condition is expected Tuesday.

The Rangers beat the Panthers, 5-4, in overtime on Nov. 4 on a game-winner by Kevin Shattenkirk, who had two in the victory. 

Florida edged the Devils, 3-2, Monday night in Newark, after dropping three of their last four contests. The Panthers are currently ahead of just the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference, nine points out of a playoff spot.

The trio of Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are leading the way offensively, with 24 and 22 points each, respectively. 

Goaltender Roberto Luongo earned his 200th career victory with the Panthers Monday night, and thus isn't expected to play Tuesday against the Rangers. Backup James Reimer has struggled this season with a 3-6-1 record to go along with a 3.70 GAA and an .888 goals against average.

Players to Watch

Rick Nash had arguably the play the day Sunday, when he spun around before hitting Vesey with a pass in the slot on the game-tying goal early in the third period against the Canucks. No. 61 has two assists in his last three games, and has seven goals and two assists in his last nine games against the Panthers.

Trocheck has been one of the hottest Panthers of late, with points in nine of his last 12 games, including six goals. The Pittsburgh-native has points in all but six games this season for the Panthers.

Inside the Numbers

Five of the last eight meetings between the Rangers and Panthers have been decided by one goal. In addition, four of the last seven meetings between the two teams, including each of the last two meetings, have been decided in either overtime or a shootout.

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