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Rangers aim to push winning streak to three against the Kings; Lundqvist back in net

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-kings

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

 

After an overtime win on the road against Detroit, the Rangers (30-16-1) are back at home to take on the Los Angeles Kings (22-20-4), closing out a back-to-back series and aiming for their third straight win.

The Rangers picked up their league-leading 17th road win of the season with a 1-0 overtime win against the Red Wings, with JT Miller scoring the only goal of the game. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season, marking his 20th win of the year and making him the first goalie in NHL history to start his career with 12 straight 20 win seasons.

The Kings have not fared as well lately, and this season, dealing with some injuries, a struggling offense and inconsistencies. They’ve lost their last three games and are three points out of a playoff spot. This is the second game of a five game road trip, and they play nine of their next 10 games on the road.

This is the first of two meetings between the Rangers and Kings this season, and the only one at Madison Square Garden. The Kings won both games in the season series last year, but the Rangers scored three goals in each of the games.

Jonathan Quick has been injured almost the entire season for the Kings, so Peter Budaj has been the workhorse in net, starting 38 of the team’s 46 games. Budaj hasn’t played this much since the 2010-11 season and was hardly in the league last year, but he’s done a very commendable job filling in. Actually, when you look at his stats this season, they’re right on par with Quick’s career numbers, so he’s performing at a similar level. Budaj is 20-14-3 with a 2.14 GAA and a .916 save percentage along with four shutouts.

Jeff Carter has been shouldering the offensive burden this season, posting a team high 24 goals and 41 points. He’s already matched his goal total from last season, and is on pace for 42 goals and 73 points, which would be his highest totals since the 2008-09 season with the Flyers.

Anze Kopitar is having a down year in his first season as the Kings’ captain, recording 25 points and just four goals through 40 games played. He’s on pace for 48 points which would be his lowest total since the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. But he’s been heating up, with eight points (1-7-8) in the last six games.

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the Rangers with Antti Raanta still sidelined, looking to build on two straight very strong starts. He’s allowed just two goals on the last 46 shots against in the team’s last two wins. Lundqvist is just 3-4-2 against Los Angeles in his career, but has allowed two goals or fewer in four of his last seven starts against them. This season, Lundqvist is 20-12-1 with a 2.77 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

Mats Zuccarello picked up the primary assist on JT Miller’s overtime winner, giving him 17 assists in his last 14 games. Despite not scoring a goal since the middle of December, Zuccarello has been able to contribute offensively in many other ways and is leading the team in points with 37 in 47 games. He’s on pace for a 65 point season, which would be a career high. I would like to see him shoot a bit more, but his offensive instincts are pretty remarkable and a big reason for the success of the Kreider-Stepan-Zuccarello line.

JT Miller’s 16th goal of the season was also his fifth game winner, and he continues to show an incredible amount of consistency, spreading out his offense and scoring at key times. He’s registered a point in nine of the last 10 games, tallying 12 points (7-5-12) over that span, and he’s scored in four of the last five games.

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

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich

Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Jimmy Vesey-Oscar Lindberg-Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Nick Holden-Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

 

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Posted on January 23, 2017, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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