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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 20th (All times Eastern)

NY Islanders (9-19-7) at NY Rangers (16-17-2), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - A couple of struggling Metropolitan Division clubs will battle for a rare win on Friday, as the New York Rangers continue their difficult homestand by hosting the rival New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers had a road-heavy schedule in the early portion of 2013-14, so the club's current nine-game homestand was supposed to be a chance to rack up some points in front of the MSG faithful. Instead, the Blueshirts have gone 1-3-2 over the first seven games of the residency, dropping them to 6-9-2 on home ice this season.

Alain Vigneault's club lost the first four games of the homestand before finally breaking through with Sunday's 4-3 shootout win against Calgary. However, the Rangers were back on the schneid their last time out, losing a 4-3 shootout decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Despite suffering another loss, the Rangers did well to even earn a point in Wednesday's outing. Pittsburgh led 3-1 after scoring two quick goals early in the third period, but New York would send the game to overtime thanks to goals by Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard over the last seven-plus minutes of regulation. Brassard's power-play tally tied the game at 3-3 with 1:46 left.

After a scoreless overtime period, one that saw the Rangers waste a power-play opportunity, the Penguins were able to earn the win in the shootout, as Brandon Sutter netted the lone goal of the decisive phase.

Carl Hagelin joined Zuccarello and Brassard as the goal-scorers for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots in the tough-luck defeat.

Lundqvist was shaken up early in OT when Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz collided with the netminder just outside his crease. Lundqvist was able to stay in the game, but his team couldn't take advantage of the power play that came with the goaltender interference.

"I don't think (Kunitz) meant to hit me," said the veteran Swedish backstop. "At first after the hit it was hard to focus, then my neck began to get sore but after a minute or so I knew I could keep playing."

Lundqvist could get an eighth straight start in net tonight and is 27-11-5 with a stellar 2.08 goals against average in 44 career games against the Islanders.

The Isles, meanwhile, enter Friday's matchup in free-fall mode, having lost three straight, 13 of 14 and 18 of their last 21 games. It's unlikely they'll catch a break tonight, as the Rangers have won three in a row, five of six and eight of the last 10 overall meetings in this series and the Islanders have dropped 10 of 13 at MSG.

Although they've set the bar fairly low all season long, the Isles have played better over the last week or so, going 1-1-2 in the last four trips to the ice. The club is on a three-game losing streak at the moment, but the Isles were at least able to get a point from each of their two most recent setbacks.

After losing 1-0 in overtime to Montreal on Saturday, the Isles dropped a 3-2 shootout decision against Tampa Bay to complete their two-game homestand.

The Isles should be kicking themselves for not getting a win in Tuesday's game against the Lightning. They held a 2-0 lead after a goal with 9:39 left in the third period, only to allow Valtteri Filppula to score twice in the last three minutes of regulation. Filppula notched the equalizer with four ticks left in the third.

Evgeni Nabokov finished with 34 saves for the Islanders, but faltered late as his team fell to 1-9-4 over their last 14 outings. Filppula and Nikita Kucherov both beat Nabokov in the shootout.

John Tavares scored the lone goal of the shootout for the Islanders, while Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen each potted regulation goals in the loss.

"When you play the right way for 57 minutes and you don't get the result, it's frustrating, especially the way that happened tonight," said Okposo.

The Isles have lost 11 of their last 12 road games and are 4-13-0 as the guest this season. They will close the month of December by playing four of six on the road.

12/20 10:53:11 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
Final
WASH 10
ARST 24
Final
HAW 18
NEV 26
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14