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Slumping Rangers resume road trip vs. Lightning

(SportsNetwork.com) - Following a disappointing homestand, the New York Rangers did not get their five-game road trip off to the best of starts.

The Blueshirts seek to rebound on Sunday night as they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New York went 3-4-2 over the longest residency in team history, then began its current trek with a 3-2 loss at the Washington Capitals on Friday. Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot both scored to erase one-goal deficits, but the Caps' Eric Fehr had the winner with 5:09 left in the game.

Cam Talbot made 31 saves in his third straight start following wins over Minnesota and Toronto.

"It was definitely a hard-fought game by both teams," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault. "I thought five-on-five, I really liked the way we competed tonight."

Pouliot ran his career-high point streak to six straight games, notching three goals and three assists over the run to account for half of his 12 points this season.

However, New York did lose defenseman Anton Stralman to an undisclosed injury in the first period and he is day-to-day. Rookie blueliner Conor Allen was recalled from the American Hockey League.

The Rangers do appear close to getting defenseman Marc Staal back from a concussion that has sidelined him for the past nine games. He took part in morning skate on Friday, is expected to start practicing with the club and may be back on this road trip.

Forwards Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello both missed practice on Saturday due to the flu.

After giving way to Talbot for the past three games, Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start tonight. He has gone 1-4-2 in his last seven starts, giving up at least three goals in each game.

The veteran is 16-8-6 with a 2.17 goals against average in his career versus the Lightning, but took a loss on Nov. 25 in Tampa after yielding four goals on 22 shots through two periods.

Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell scored twice for the Lightning and Ben Bishop made 37 saves as the Bolts opened their season series versus the Rangers with a win after dropping all three meetings last season.

Tampa Bay has won nine of its last 14 at home versus New York.

The Lightning had a season-high five-game winning streak snapped on Saturday night, but did record a point for the 10th time in their last 11 games with a 2-1 shootout setback to the Montreal Canadiens.

Martin St. Louis had a goal in regulation, but the offense failed to light the lamp in the tiebreaker. Bishop was bested once in the shootout after stopping 20 shots through overtime.

The Lightning entered the third period tied with the Habs despite having just nine shots in the game. They got on track with 14 shots in the third period.

"We played a great third period, but had a couple of chances that just missed," said Bishop. "This game could have went either way tonight."

Tampa Bay moved to 7-1-3 in its last 11 games thanks in part to St. Louis, who has 38 points in 38 games this season, including four goals and four assists on a current six-game point streak.

The Bolts played without defensemen Eric Brewer (arm) and Sami Salo (upper body) due to injury.

Bishop is 4-0-0 with a 0.89 GAA and two shutouts in four career games (3 starts) versus the Rangers. Backup Anders Lindback is 0-1-0 against them with a 2.69 GAA in one start and one relief appearance.

12/29 10:59:16 ET

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5:05pm Tonight
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