New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 PM at Tampa Bay Times Forum
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 7:15 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers (41-15-6, 88pts) look to push their winning streak to four straight games this evening when they skate against the Lightning (29-28-6, 64 pts) in Tampa. They will also be seeking to sweep their two-game road swing through the south following Thursday's gritty 3-2 victory in Raleigh over the Hurricanes---a contest in which the Rangers played without injured captain Ryan Callahan for the entire match, and without key defenseman Michael Del Zotto for the third period. Callahan likely will not play again this evening due to his bruised foot, while Del Zotto (hip) will be further evaluated during the day on Friday. Thursday's victory over Carolina was the 20th this season for the Blueshirts on the road, making them the first team in the National Hockey League with at least 20 victories both on home ice and on the road this season. Entering play tonight the Rangers have 88 points, giving them a nine-point cushion for first place in the Eastern Conference over both Boston and Pittsburgh. The Blueshirts currently sit two points behind Vancouver for first overall in the entire NHL. The Lightning come in having won two straight and five of their last seven games. Their flu-ravaged lineup was able to get somewhat more healthy with two straight off days coming into play this evening, though injured regulars Vincent Lecavalier, Victor Hedman, and Marc-Andre Bergeron all will not play tonight as Tampa Bay tries to pull closer to a playoff spot. They currently sit in 12th place in the East, six points out of the final playoff seed.
The Rangers and Lightning will meet for the fourth and final time this season tonight, with the Blueshirts owning a 2-0-1 record head-to-head so far. In the only previous game played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Rangers rallied for a 4-2 victory by scoring three consecutive goals in the third period on December 3rd. Derek Stepan (2-3-5) leads the Rangers in scoring this year against the Lightning with five points. The Rangers are 9-3-3 in their last 15 contests with Tampa Bay.
"We have done a good job of coming through with total team efforts throughout the season, and we need to continue to do that with (Ryan Callahan) out. (Last night) we just grinded it out, kept coming as the game wore on and got better and better, with everyone contributing. That's what we need to have another good road win (tonight)."-Brian Boyle
By The Numbers
This season marks the third straight under head coach John Tortorella that the Rangers have won 20 or more road games. Last season the Rangers tied the franchise record with 24 wins on the road, one originally set in 1993-94. In order to best that total in 2011-12 the Rangers would need to win five of their remaining nine contests away from Madison Square Garden.
Marian Gaborik reached the 30-goal plateau for the seventh time in his 11 NHL seasons by scoring last night in Carolina. Gaborik's career-high is 42, originally set with the Minnesota Wild back in 2007-08 and later equaled as a Ranger in 2009-10.
Can the Rangers make it four in a row tonight? Share your prediction below.