NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, January 29th
(All times Eastern)
NY Rangers (28-23-3) at NY Islanders (21-26-8), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers will try to go 2-0 in the Bronx
when the NHL's "Stadium Series" continues with Wednesday's outdoor battle
against the rival New York Islanders.
Just like they were in Sunday's blowout win over the New Jersey Devils at
Yankee Stadium, the Rangers are the designated visiting team for Wednesday's
The Blueshirts slammed the Devils by a 7-3 score in Sunday's game at Yankee
Stadium, scoring six unanswered goals after falling behind 3-1 in the first
period. The Rangers set an NHL outdoor game record with seven total goals and
also became the first team to win two outdoor games since the league began
playing regular-season tilts among the elements at the 2003 Heritage Classic.
The Rangers, who also beat the Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic at
Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, can push their record in outdoor games to
3-0 with another win tonight. However, the Islanders have won two straight in
this rivalry after losing the season-series opener against the Rangers on Oct.
These Metropolitan Division rivals are set to engage in the fourth of six
outdoor games on the NHL's 2013-14 schedule. The Toronto Maple Leafs and
Detroit Red Wings got things started with the Winter Classic on New Year's Day
at Michigan Stadium, won in a shootout 3-2 by the Leafs, and the Anaheim Ducks
and Los Angeles Kings met on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, hours before
the Rangers and Devils tangled in the Bronx on Sunday afternoon.
The Ducks blanked the Kings 3-0 in a game that featured a temperature of 62
degrees at opening faceoff. Things were much cooler in New York for the clash
between the Rangers and the Devils, but it was sun glare and not the brisk
weather that led to the start of Sunday's game being delayed by an hour.
Obviously, the sun won't be an issue in tonight's battle under the lights but
the cold weather remains. Snow fell for a while during Sunday's game and the
white stuff could come into play this evening as well.
Mats Zuccarello scored twice for the Rangers during a second-period blitz that
proved to be the downfall of the Devils. The Blueshirts scored four times in
the second period and reeled off six unanswered goals in all to turn a 3-1
deficit into a 7-3 advantage.
"It's something you are really proud to be a part of," said Zuccarello.
Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and Dominic Moore all posted a goal and an assist,
while Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin also scored for the Rangers, who had dropped
lost two in a row heading into Sunday's game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19
shots in the win and the Rangers No. 1 netminder will get the start again
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was asked after Sunday's game if having
already played at Yankee Stadium will give his team an advantage over the
Islanders tonight. He doesn't believe it will.
"I think for our group it's going to be another good experience in an 82-game
schedule," said Vigneault. "But I think if I'm from Long Island and I'm a
player and coach and member there I'm going to feed off this first opportunity
for them. I don't see an advantage for one team or the other."
The Isles are in need of a win on Wednesday, having lost three straight and
four of their last six games after playing their best hockey of the season in
late December and early January.
While Vigneault has confirmed Lundqvist will get the call tonight, Islanders
head coach Jack Capuano has yet to reveal his starting goaltender for this
Kevin Poulin started Monday's 6-3 home loss to Boston and was yanked after
yielding six goals on 26 shots in 48-plus minutes. Evgeni Nabokov saw his
first action since being activated from injured reserve, stopping the only
shot faced the rest of the way. In light of the most recent outing and the
high-profile nature of tonight's game, the Russian veteran could get the call
over the 23-year-old Poulin at Yankee Stadium.
Kyle Okposo scored once and posted a pair of helpers for the Islanders in
their loss Monday against the Bruins. Okposo tied the game at 3-3 with 4:52
left in the second period, but Boston took the lead for good on a goal from
Jarome Iginla in the final minute of the middle stanza and the Bruins added
two more tallies in the third.
Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen also lit the lamp in defeat.
"We played well but didn't bury enough chances," Okposo said.
The Isles enter Wednesday's tilt seven points out of a playoff spot in the
Eastern Conference, while the Rangers are currently second in the Metropolitan
Division and nine points ahead of their rivals from Long Island. Under the
NHL's recent realignment plan, the top three teams in each division get an
automatic berth to the postseason.
Following tonight's battle in the Bronx, the NHL has two outdoor games left on
its schedule this season. The Chicago Blackhawks are set to host the
Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1, while the following day will
see the Vancouver Canucks invite the Ottawa Senators for a clash at BC Place.
01/29 10:27:54 ET