Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Thursday, Feb. 28, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 8-8-2 (18 pts)
Lightning: 9-9-1 (19 pts)
The Rangers will face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m. — TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7), in their third meeting this month. The Blueshirts currently rank fourth in the Atlantic Division standings, and rank 11th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 8-8-2 (18 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, to begin a four-game homestand. The Blueshirts have recorded at least a point in four of their last six home games (3-2-1). The Lightning enter the contest with a 9-9-1 (19 pts) record to rank eighth in the Eastern Conference, and have lost three of their last four games. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, Mar. 3, at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), as they continue their four-game homestand.
RANGERS vs. LIGHTNING:
• All-Time: 41-29-5-7 overall (23-13-2-4 at home; 18-16-3-3 on the road)
• 2013: Tonight is the third and final meeting this season, and the second meeting at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are 2-0-0 overall (1-0-0 at home; 1-0-0 on the road), following a 5-1 win at MSG on Feb. 10. The Rangers have out-scored the Lightning, 8-3, in the series, including a 4-1 advantage in the third period. Carl Hagelin leads all skaters with three goals and five points in two games, while Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are tied for the scoring lead among defensemen with two assists apiece. Henrik Lundqvist is 1-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .950 Sv%, and Martin Biron is 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .938 Sv%.
• Last Season: New York was 2-0-2 overall (1-0-1 mark at home; 1-0-1 mark on the road). Three of their four meetings were decided in extra time, including one contest that required the shootout. The team who tallied the game’s first goal was winless in the series, posting a combined record of 0-1-3. The Rangers’ power play was 3-13 (23.1%) in the season series, while their penalty kill was 10-11 (90.9%) with one shorthanded goal. Derek Stepan registered a series-leading, six points, including a team-high, four assists in four games. Ryan Callahan led all skaters with two power play goals, while Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto tied for the series lead among defensemen with three assists/points apiece.
• Seven of the last nine meetings between the Rangers and Lightning have been decided by one goal, including five that required extra time and two that went into the shootout
• The Rangers have registered a point in 15 of their last 18 games against the Lightning (11-3-4 over the span), dating back to a 2-1 win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 4, 2008
• Henrik Lundqvist has started 28 of the Rangers’ last 30 contests against Tampa Bay, posting a record of 15-7-6 with a 2.12 GAA, .924 Sv% and two shutouts over the span
• New York is tied for ninth in the NHL with a 6-4-1 (13 pts) record at home; Tampa Bay is tied for 23rd in the NHL with a 3-5-0 (6 pts) mark on the road
• The Rangers are 3-1-0 vs. the Southeast Division this season; the Lightning are 1-6-0 vs. the Atlantic Division this season
• New York lists four former Lightning on their roster: Steve Eminger (2008-09); Matt Gilroy (2011-12); Jeff Halpern (2007-08 – 2009-10); Brad Richards (2000-01 – 2007-08)
• Tampa Bay lists one former Ranger on their roster: Adam Hall (2006-07)
• Rangers’ Head Coach John Tortorella served as Lightning Head Coach from 2000-01 to 2007-08, posting a record of 239-222-36-38 in 535 games while guiding Tampa Bay to four consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, two Southeast Division Championships (2002-03, 2003-04) and the franchise’s only Stanley Cup Championship in 2003-04; Rangers’ Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan served as an assistant coach with the Lightning in 2007-08 and 2008-09
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. LIGHTNING:
• Henrik Lundqvist — 28 GP, 15-7-6, 2.12 GAA, 2 SO
• Martin Biron — 21 GP, 12-7-2-0, 2.64 GAA
• Marian Gaborik — 17 GP, 8-8-16
• Brad Richards — 9 GP, 3-8-11
• Derek Stepan — 10 GP, 5-5-10
• Marc Staal — 19 GP, 3-6-9
• Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in two power play attempts (4:00) on Tuesday vs. Winnipeg. New York is tied for 29th overall (7-63, 11.1%) and 25th at home (5-37, 13.5%). The Rangers are 1-6 (7:05) in five-on-three situations (last – 2/14 vs. NYI), and 0-0 (0:00) when four-on-three. Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 2/19 vs. MTL (Diaz, EN); 2/21 at OTT (Silfverberg).
• Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Jets scoreless in three attempts (6:00) on Tuesday at MSG. New York ranks 10th overall (56-67, 83.6%) and is tied for 10th at home (36-42, 85.7%). The Rangers are 3-3 (4:49) in three-on-five situations (last – 2/23 at MTL), and 2-2 (1:57) when three-on-four (last – 1/31 vs. PIT). Shorthanded goals for (1): 1/20 vs. PIT (Nash).
• Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Tuesday vs. Winnipeg, and are now minus-1 in 11 four-on-four situations (23:35) this season. Four-on-four goals for (1): 1/23 vs. BOS (Gaborik). Four-on-four goals allowed (2): 1/20 vs. PIT (Letang); 1/23 vs. BOS (Horton).
The Rangers have posted a record of 18-4-2 in their last 24 games against Southeast Division opponents, including a 3-1-0 mark against the Southeast Division this season. The Blueshirts have out-scored their Southeast Division opponents, 80-50, over the span.
GOAL SCORING LEADERS SINCE 2009-10
Marian Gaborik has been among the league’s goal scoring leaders since joining the Rangers in 2009-10. Last season, Gaborik became the fifth player in Rangers history to record 100 goals in his first three seasons with the club, and became the third Ranger in franchise history to register multiple 40-goal seasons with the team. Entering this season, his 105 goals from 2009-10 to 2011-12 ranked seventh in the NHL, while his .48 goals per game average ranked third (behind Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin) over that time period. Including games played this season, Gaborik currently ranks sixth in the league with 112 goals scored and is tied for third with .47 goals per game since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers rank third in the NHL in hits (557) this season. Brian Boyle leads the Rangers and ranks seventh in the NHL with 66 hits, while Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan ranks second on the team and is tied for eighth in the league with 64 hits. Marc Staal leads all Rangers defensemen and is tied for 19th among NHL blueliners with 41 hits.
Christian Thomas was credited with three hits in 12:46 of ice time while making his NHL debut on Saturday at Montreal. Thomas became the 11th player to make their regular season Rangers debut this season, along with Jeff Halpern, Rick Nash, Taylor Pyatt, Chris Kreider, Brandon Segal, Arron Asham, Benn Ferriero, Darroll Powe, J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter.
THE HOT LIST:
• The Rangers’ penalty kill is 24-26 (92.3%) in the last nine games
• New York has registered a point in six of seven games when scoring the first goal this season (5-1-1), and are 3-7-1 when allowing the game’s first goal
• The Blueshirts have posted a 5-0-1 mark when leading after the first period, and are 5-0-0 when leading after the second period
• Henrik Lundqvist — has held opponents to two goals or less in eight of his last 12 games (6-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .924 Sv% over the span)
• Marc Staal — seven assists in the last 11 games
• Dan Girardi — five points (one goal, four assists) in the last eight games
• Anton Stralman — three points (two goals, one assist) in the last three home games
• Ryan Callahan — two goals in the last three games
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
• Ryan Callahan — 6 assists from 100th NHL career
• Michael Del Zotto — 4 points from 100th NHL career
• Steve Eminger — 3 points from 100th NHL career
• Brad Richards — 6 points from 800th NHL career
• Marc Staal — 4 points from 100th NHL career
• Anton Stralman — 4 points from 100th NHL career
• Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5/11) — 18
• Rick Nash (injured, 2/19) — 4
• Arron Asham (injured, 2/19) — 3
• Michael Del Zotto (injured, 2/21) — 2
• Ryan McDonagh (injured, 2/23) — 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 42