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Rangers Visit Maple Leafs in Toronto

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers head north of the border to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.

New York is coming off a a 3-2 shootout loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens Tuesday night at The Garden. Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash each scored, but Alex Radulov and Paul Byron each beat Henrik Lundqvist in the shootout to take the game.

Wednesday was a travel day for the Rangers, and thus it is unknown who will be between the pipes for the Rangers against the Leafs Thursday evening.

Lundqvist has gotten the bulk of the workload over the last several weeks. He's started eight of the last nine games for the Blueshirts, going 6-1-1 during that stretch. He's 14-9-5 with two shutouts against the Maple Leafs in his career, and has helped New York earn at least one point in six of his last seven games in Toronto dating back to Feb. 25, 2009.

Antti Raanta has just one start since returning to the lineup after an injury in mid-January. That start, though, was a good one on Feb. 13 in Columbus when he backstopped the Blueshirts to a win, making 30 saves for his 11th win of the season.

Thursday's match is the third and final between these two Original Six competitors. The Rangers topped the Leafs in their last meeting on Jan. 19 in Toronto, a 5-2 win that saw J.T. Miller and Michael Grabner each score a pair of goals.

The Air Canada Centre has been a friendly arena for the Rangers, who are 9-2-1 there since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.

The Leafs are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race at 28-20-11 and 67 points. Entering Wednesday's games, Toronto sat third in the Atlantic Division, five points off the lead, and one point up on Florida.

Toronto is 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, and are coming off a 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night.

The rookie tandem of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner have led the way all season for Toronto. Matthews, the 2016 first overall pick, leads the team with 28 goals and 52 points, while Marner is second with 48 points and a team-leading 33 helpers.

Marner, though, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and will be unavailable for Thursday's game against the Rangers.

For the first time in a long time, Toronto has had stability in goal this season, as the offseason acquisition of Frederik Andersen has paid off thus far. The 27-year-old is 24-13-10 with a 2.81 GAA and a .913 SV% this season.

The Leafs enter the game with the NHL's top power play at 23.5 percent. The Rangers have struggled as of late with the man advantage and are now 15th at 19.4 percent.

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