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Rangers aim to rebound on homestand vs. Islanders

(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 10:58:17 ET

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Schedule

Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Montreal 4/16 7:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay CNBC, CBC, RDS, SunSports
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Columbus 4/16 7:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, FS-OH, ROOT
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Dallas 4/16 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim NBCSN, TSN
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
TV
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    Saturday at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

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