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Rangers look to extend win streak to 3; St. Louis ready to face former team

Bobby Bevilacqua

Callahan and staal 11-17

The Rangers and the Lightning will face off for the second time this season. The Lightning won the first match by a score of 5-1, dominating play for most of the 60 minutes at Madison Square Garden. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After two straight shutout victories, the Rangers (9-7-4) will rematch against the Tampa Bay Lightning (14-6-2) in Florida for the first time this season.

For Martin St. Louis, it will certainly be an emotional night. After spending 14 seasons with the Lightning, St. Louis will make his first return to Tampa Bay since joining the Rangers.

“I am expecting the worst, but hoping for the best,” said St. Louis when asked about how he thinks the Lightning fans will respond. “Obviously it’s weird to go past the (Lightning) dressing room and not make a left turn in it, but I’ve moved on and I think tomorrow is going to be special for me tomorrow to play here.”

The Lightning have said that they have a video tribute planned, and I would expect the fans to respond nicely towards St. Louis. But some may still be angry that he asked for a trade out of Tampa Bay, so tit will be interesting to see the crowd’s reaction.

St. Louis has been on a hot streak lately, scoring seven goals in his last 10 games and he is currently riding a four game point streak.

After playing center in Derek Stepan’s absence, St. Louis was placed back on the right wing, and has thrived there, picking up most of his points at his natural position.

martin st louis 11-1

Martin St. Louis will have an emotional return to Tampa Bay tonight, the place where he played for 13 years. St. Louis has seven goals in his last 10 games, and is just two points shy of 1,000 for his career. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

St. Louis sits just two points shy of 1,000 for his career, and he has the chance to reach that milestone in a place where he has done so much throughout his career.

“For sure I definitely thought about it and am hoping for it,” said St. Louis on the possibility of reaching the milestone in Tampa Bay. “It’s funny the way things line up sometimes. When they cancel the game in Buffalo, and now we are here. I know I am going to get it. Would it be great if I got it here? Absolutely. We’ll go play and let the cards fall where they fall.”

Rick Nash and Derek Stepan have also been key contributors as well. Rick Nash scored his 14th goal of the season on Sunday, giving him 21 points (14-7-21) in the first 20 games of the season. Since his return, Derek Stepan has been excellent as the second line center. In his first eight games, the alternate captain has seven points (2-5-7) already, and has really helped New York down the middle.

Rick Nash 10-16

Rick Nash has been the best forward for the Rangers, and one of the hottest players in the NHL. Nash has 14 goals in 20 games, and seems to be scoring at will. Nash will be strong against a high-powered Lightning offense. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Steven Stamkos is the best player on the Lightning, and the new Captain after St. Louis’ departure. Stamkos is off to a fantastic start, scoring 14 goals and 10 assists in 22 games. Stamkos is a threat to score at any point, and the Rangers defenseman will have to pay close attention to him throughout the night.

Ryan Callahan has also been playing well. In 17 games, Callahan has 16 points (8-8-16), and is a power play threat. Callahan is a strong net front presence and is often on the receiving end of Stamkos’ passes.

The Lightning own the best offense in the NHL, with a league-high total of 77 goals this season. They have scored five or more goals in six different games. They also have the sixth ranked power play in the league, with a 23% efficiency (17-74). They also have a strong penalty kill, killing off 81.1% (14-74) of the opposing power plays.

The last time that the Rangers played the Lightning, they were “embarrassed,” as Dan Boyle said, on home ice by a score of 5-1. Callahan scored twice and the Rangers mustered only 16 shots on goal. St. Louis was the only goal scorer for New York.

The Rangers lineup will remain unchanged, meaning that Lee Stempniak will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game. The lines will also be the same, especially after the great success the forward groups had in the 5-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

EXPECTED LINES:

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Anthony Duclair

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

John Moore-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Matt Hunwick-Kevin Klein

Lundqvist

 

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Posted on November 26, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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