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Rangers Wrap Up Road Trip With Matchup Against Sharks

Blueshirts Need One Point to Clinch Playoff Berth

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

SAN JOSE -- The Rangers can clinch a playoff berth Tuesday when they finish their three-game road trip through California with a matchup with the San Jose Sharks.

With the New York Islanders and Carolina both losing but Tampa Bay defeating Chicago, the Rangers need just one point against the Sharks to secure their seventh straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

New York allowed three goals in the third period in 6-3 loss Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Brady Skjei each scored in the defeat, while Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves in his return to the lineup after missing eight games with an injury.

Lundqvist is slated to start Tuesday's game after coach Alain Vigneault said he wanted Lundqvist to play two out of the three games out west. He's 4-4-0 with one shutout against San Jose for his career, and has allowed one goal or fewer in three of his last four appearances against the Sharks.

Tuesday marks the final meeting between the Rangers and Sharks this season. New York topped San Jose 7-4 back on Oct. 17, with seven different Rangers finding the back of the net. Mats Zuccarello led the way with three points.

The Rangers have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 17 games against San Jose dating back to Dec. 28, 2001, including 11 wins.

San Jose is locked in a tight race for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Entering play, the Sharks are two points behind the Ducks and are tied with Edmonton for the second spot.

The problem, though, is that San Jose has lost its last six games, and have lost their last two games by a combined score of 13-3, including a 7-2 loss Saturday in Nashville.

San Jose returns home after a four-game road trip. Their 23 wins at SAP Center are near the top of the Western Conference.

Defenseman Brent Burns is garnering MVP votes with 27 goals and 72 points in 75 games this year, leading the way for the Sharks. Captain Joe Pavelski has a team-high 28 goals.

Martin Jones has struggled as of late with just one win in his last four wins, and just two in March. He's 32-20-6 with a 2.23 GAA and a .913 SV% on the year.

Despite so many offensive weapons, San Jose's power play is towards the bottom of the league at 16.9 percent.

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