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Rangers finish back-to-back series with Coyotes at the Garden

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-coyotes-11-7

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (3-2-0) don’t have much time to revel in their comeback victory over the Capitals, as they are back at Madison Square Garden tonight to battle the Arizona Coyotes (1-3-0) on Hockey Fights Cancer night.

A goal from Brandon Pirri and two from Jimmy Vesey gave the Rangers a second period lead over the Capitals, and Henrik Lundqvist did the rest with a strong 26 save effort for his second win of the season. Zibanejad picked up one assist, as did Ryan McDonagh to give him four points in five games.

The Coyotes last played against the New York Islanders, falling 3-2 in regulation. Brad Richardson scored his second goal of the season, and Radim Vrbata scored his first of the season since coming back to the Coyotes. Louie Domingue made 28 saves.

This is the first of two meetings between these teams and the only at MSG. The Rangers won both games last year and outscored Arizona 8-2, with Kreider leading the team with two goals and three points. Overall, the Rangers have won their last five games against the Coyotes, outscoring them 21-9, and they’ve won eight of the last nine games since December 2010.

The Coyotes will turn to Louie Domingue tonight as they attempt to snap their three game losing streak, beginning the second half of a six game road trip. Domingue is the starter for now after Mike Smith went down with a lower body injury, and there’s a lot of pressure of the 24 year old to perform in his absence. It hasn’t been easy for him, allowing 10 goals on 61 shots for a 6.25 GAA and a .836 save percentage.

While the coyotes have been getting scoring from their depth players, the top six has really struggled. The pressure will be on for Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, who both are yet to find the back of the net so far. Domi scored 18 goals and 52 points in a very impressive rookie season, while Anthony Duclair, the former Rangers draft pick, scored 20 goals and 44 points last year. Both will look to have an impact tonight.

Jacob Chychrun was drafted 16th overall by the Coyotes over the summer, and the 18 year old is currently getting his nine games as the team looks to see if he’s ready for the NHL. So far through three games, he has a point in each, scoring one goal with two assists. He seems to have elite skills as a two-way defenseman, and it’s been a great three games for him so far. Watch out for him to have an impact as the youngster looks to prove his worth at the NHL level.

It’s unknown who will be in net for the Rangers, but Antti Raanta is the logical choice. AV has made it clear that he wants Lundqvist to be in the vicinity of 50-58 starts this season, and there’s no need for him to play tonight after a hard-working win yesterday. Antti Raanta won his only start this season, looking a lot better than the four goals he allowed. In his career, Raanta is 3-0-1 with a 1.47 GAA and a .957 save percentage.

Chris Kreider was held off of the scoresheet last night and I don’t expect that to happen for long. Kreider has registered a goal/point in each of his last four games against the Coyotes, scoring five goals with one assist. He leads the team with seven points and is tied with Vesey for the lead in goals, and Kreider will look to continue his monster start to the season tonight.

Kevin Hayes has been getting more responsibility, including lots of power play time and even some looks on the penalty kill as AV trusts him more and more. Hayes lost a lot of weight this summer and has come into camp looking quicker and still showing his ability to maintain possession and create opportunities. I really think Hayes is going to put everything together this year and I think he scores tonight. Hayes has a point in each of his four career games against the Coyotes, with a goal in each of the last two games.

Dan Girardi was skating yesterday and could return to the lineup tonight. It’s not known who he would replace, but based on usage I’d say it’s unfortunately Adam Clendening who would sit. Pavel Buchnevich doesn’t seem to be ready as he continues to struggle with back spasms.

The Rangers and the Coyotes will faceoff at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Brandon Pirri

Michael Grabner-Josh Jooris-Jesper fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-Nick Holden

Antti Raanta

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Posted on October 23, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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