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Thanksgiving Treat as Top Two Teams Face Off at MSG

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

Hockey fans will have plenty to give thanks for tonight when arguably the top two goaltenders in the NHL face of at Madison Square Garden.

It'll be the Metropolitian Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price. Both teams are tied with 34 points on the season.

Lundqvist leads the NHL with a 1.74 goals against average this season and a .946 save percentage. His 12 wins are tied with Washington's Braden Holtby for tops in the League.

Price missed nearly a month due to injury, but still finds himself near the top of most goalie categories. He enters tonight's game ninth in goals against at 2.10 and fifth in save percentage with .933. He's tied for second in shutouts with two.

"I just think we look at them as a good test for us right now," Lundqvist said after the team's morning skate at The Garden. "They've been playing well all year. They have good speed. I think the last time we played them back in Montreal, their transition game is really the top in the League, the way they go from defense to offense."

The last time these two teams met was Oct. 15, a 3-0 win for the Canadiens in what was an early goaltending duel between the two titans. While Price walked away with the shutout, it could be argued Lundqvist was the better netminder, making 31 saves to Price's 25.

Reflecting back on that night, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said he wasn't happy with the offense the Rangers generated that night in Quebec. By his count, the Rangers had just four scoring chances at even strength, and wasted a 5-on-3 power play.

"Price had to make a couple saves on the 5-on-3 and I think one tough save 5-on-5, but other than that, we really didn't test him," Vigneault said. "They were the better team. We've moved on from that time. Got another opportunity tonight to play against one of the best teams in the League."

Wednesday marks another opportunity for Lundqvist to face the League's elite in Price. Throught 12 starts against the former Vezina Winner, Lundqivst is 5-6-1 with a 2.74 goals against and a .904 save percentage. Overall, Lundqvist is 14-14-2 against Montreal with a 2.67 goals against and a .903 save percentage with two shutouts in 31 games.

Lundqvist said playing against the best players in the NHL always brings his excitement level to another gear.

"I always enjoy playing against really good players, goalies or forwards," Lundqvist stated. "Price is one of the best goalies in the League. You just have to challenge yourself to play your best. You're going to need it if you want to win the game.

"You have to raise your level," No. 30 continued. "There's so many good goaltenders in the League right now, but Price, coming off last year and this year too, he's at a really high level. You try and match it and be as good as you can."

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Vigneault will stick with the same lineup Wednesday as he had in Monday's 3-0 shutout win over the Nashville Predators. Forward Emerson Etem and defenseman Dylan McIlrath remain healthy scratches.

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