Rangers-Rick Nash: This might be jumping the gun because it is not yet known if Nash will be returning to the lineup tonight or not, but all signs seem to be pointing to the star forward playing against the Lightning after missing the previous four games with an unspecified injury. Nash, who has skated with his teammates in each of the previous two days, says he has been "banged up" and has been sidelined for multiple reasons, but clearly appears on the verge of a return. The Rangers desperately need Nash back on the ice, as they have earned only one of a possible eight points (0-3-1) in his absence. Despite missing four games he still is still the team's leading scorer, his 12 points now tied with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards; and before being sidelined Nash was riding a four-game point-scoring streak in which he had five points (1-4-5). Nash has scored just three goals this year, so far, but two of those three have come against the Lightning as have three of his 12 points.
Lightning-Steven Stamkos: The reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner just turned 23 years of age a couple of weeks ago and he is already closing in on 200 career goals. A virtual goal-scoring machine, Stamkos netted 60 last season, following seasons of 51 and 45 goals scored. This year he leads the NHL with 14 goals and 30 points over just 19 games played. And he enters The Garden tonight on a tear, having scored goals in six straight games and points in seven in a row. He is 7-6-13 in his last seven matches, with a pair of three-point outings in the mix, including his goal and two assist effort two games ago in Pittsburgh. Stamkos scored twice against the Rangers down in Tampa back on February 2nd, but was blanked by the Blueshirts and limited to only two shots on goal at The Garden eight days later.