This is an enormous game for the Rangers, who have an opportunity to put three points between themselves and ninth-place Winnipeg—a huge lead at this stage of the season—and to move up in the standings this week.
But it’s an even bigger game for the Devils, the team that eliminated the Rangers from the playoffs last spring, who will be eliminated from participation in the playoffs if they lose today, in any fashion.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer said this will be “a man’s game.”
Pre-game notes courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Sunday, Apr. 21, 3:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 23-17-4 (50 pts)
Devils: 16-17-10 (42 pts)
The Rangers will face-off against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden (3:00 p.m. — TV: NBC; Radio: ESPN 98.7), in an Atlantic Division matchup. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and rank eighth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 23-17-4 (50 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 8-4, on Friday at First Niagara Center, and are now 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. New York has won four of their last five games, and are 6-2-1 since the trade deadline. The Devils are currently 17-17-10 (44 pts), and have lost 10 of their last 12 games. Following today’s contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, Apr. 23, at BB&T Center (7:30 p.m.), in their second meeting in five days.
RANGERS vs. DEVILS: – All-Time: 102-85-27-6 overall (56-30-20-2 at home; 46-55-7-4 on the road) – 2013: Tomorrow is the third of four meetings this season, and the first of two meetings at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are 1-1-0 (0-0-0 at home; 1-1-0 on the road) following a 3-2 win on Mar. 19 at Prudential Center. Michael Del Zotto leads the team in scoring with two points (one goal, one assist) in the series, including one shorthanded goal. Henrik Lundqvist is 1-1-0 with a 2.54 GAA and .906 Sv%. – Last Season: New York was 3-2-1 overall (2-1-0 mark at home; 1-1-1 mark on the road). Four of their six meetings were decided by two goals or less. The Rangers’ penalty kill was 16-18 (88.9%) with one shorthanded goal in the season series. Carl Hagelin led allskaters with six assists, eight points and a plus-five rating in six games. Derek Stepan (two goals, four assists) tied Hagelin for the team-high with two goals apiece, while Dan Girardi led all series defensemen in scoring with three points (one goal, two assists). Henrik Lundqvist was 3-2-0 with a 1.41 GAA, .940 Sv% and one shutout, and Martin Biron was 0-0-1 with a 2.77 GAA and .897 Sv%. – The Rangers and Devils have been separated by two goals or less in 15 of their last 19 meetings – The Rangers have registered a point in 14 of their last 21 games against the Devils (12-7-2 over the span), dating back to a 3-0 win at Madison Square Garden on Mar. 30, 2009 – New York ranks 10th in the NHL with a 14-6-2 (30 pts) record at home; New Jersey ranks 20th in the NHL with a 6-8-8 (20 pts) mark on the road – The Rangers are 8-6-2 vs. the Atlantic Division this season; the Devils are 9-4-2 vs. the Atlantic Division this season – New York lists one former Devil on their roster: Arron Asham (2007-08) – New Jersey lists no former Rangers on their roster
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. DEVILS: – Henrik Lundqvist — 43 GP, 26-12-5, 1.83 GAA, 6 SO – Martin Biron — 31 GP, 8-15-2-3, 3.14 GAA, 2 SO – Brad Richards — 40 GP, 5-29-34 – Ryan Callahan — 26 GP, 7-10-17 – Dan Girardi — 36 GP, 1-14-15
SPECIAL TEAMS: – The Rangers’ power play is 7-30 (23.3%) in the last nine games, compared to 14.3% with the man advantage prior to the trade deadline – New York has registered a point in 17 of 21 games (15-4-2) when not allowing a power play goal – Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in one power play attempt (1:49) on Friday at Buffalo. New York ranks 21st overall (22-135, 16.3%) and is tied for 13th at home (15-71, 21.1%). The Rangers are 3-9 (7:53) in five-on-three situations (last –3/24 vs. WSH), and 2-2 (1:20) when four-on-three (last –4/13 at NYI). Shorthanded goals allowed (4): 2/19 vs. MTL (Diaz, EN); 2/21 at OTT (Silfverberg); 3/3 vs. BUF (Gerbe); 3/21 vs. FLA (Kopecky, EN). – Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered two goals to the Sabres in four power play attempts (5:50) on Friday at Buffalo. New York is tied or 16th overall (112-138, 81.2%) and ranks 13th at home (63-74, 85.1%). The Rangers are 8-8 (8:24) in three-on-five situations (last –4/1 vs. WPG), and 4-4 (4:24) when three-on-four (last –3/18 vs. CAR). Shorthanded goals for (4): 1/20 vs. PIT (Nash); 3/12 at BUF (Stepan); 3/19 at NJD (Del Zotto); 4/1 vs. WPG (Callahan). – Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (0:11) on Friday at Buffalo, and are now Even in 29 four-on-four situations (60:55) this season. Four-on-four goals for (2): 1/23 vs. BOS (Gaborik); 4/13 at NYI (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (2): 1/20 vs. PIT (Letang); 1/23 vs. BOS (Horton).
The Rangers are 21-9-3 overall (11-4-1 at home; 10-5-2 on the road) against the Devils since 2007-08, dating back to a 2-0 win on Oct. 25, 2007. Henrik Lundqvist is 21-9-2 with a 2.00 GAA, .927 Sv% and six shutouts in 32 games over the span.
Henrik Lundqvist has faced-off against Martin Brodeur in 35 career regular season games, posting a record of 23-7-5 with a 1.77 GAA, .933 Sv% and five shutouts over the span.
The Rangers swept their final back-to-back set, defeating the Florida Panthers, 6-1, at MSG on Thursday and the Buffalo Sabres, 8-4, on Friday at First Niagara Center. Their 14 combined goals were the most by the Rangers in consecutive games since Jan. 17-19, 2010 (14 goals), and their most in a back-to-back set since Mar. 1-2, 1992 (16 goals). The Rangers’ eight goals on Friday were their most since Nov. 14, 2010 (8-2 win vs. EDM) and they established a franchise record for fastest five goals, tallying five goals in a span of 2 min. 58 sec. in the contest.
Prior to Thursday’s contest, Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan was named recipient of the 2012-13 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, for performing “above and beyond the call of duty,” for the fourth time in the last five years. He later recorded two power play assists, and was credited with a game-high five hits and three blocked shots, while skating in his 400th career NHL contest in a 6-1 win against Florida.
Henrik Lundqvist posted his 20th win of the season in a 6-1 victory on Thursday against Florida, to become one of five active NHL goalies to reach the 20-win mark in eight consecutive seasons (Brodeur, 12; Luongo, 9; Vokoun, 9; Kiprusoff, 8).
THE PUCK STOPS HERE
Henrik Lundqvist turned aside all 29 shots faced to post his first shutout of the season, 44th of his career, in a 1-0 overtime win on Apr. 13 at Long Island. The shutout was Lundqvist’s 50th career total, including six playoff shutouts, tying him with Ed Giacomin as the Rangers’ all-time leader in total shutouts.
FINISHING THE JOB
The Blueshirts have registered a point in 90 consecutive games when leading after the second period, dating back to the 2009-10 season, posting a record of 84-0-6 over the span. The Rangers’ last regulation loss in a game when entering the third with the lead was Feb. 4, 2010 (6-5 loss vs. WSH). New York is 14-0-0 when leading after the second period this season.
The Rangers rank among the Eastern Conference leaders in several statistical categories… – 3rd (T-4th in NHL) in GAA — 2.30 – 1st (1st in NHL) in Fewest PIM/G — 9.2 – 2nd (3rd in NHL) in Hits — 1292 – 4th (T-6th in NHL) in BkS — 703
THE HOT LIST: – Henrik Lundqvist — has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of his last 16 games (10-4-2, 1.85 GAA, .932 Sv%, 1 SO over the span) – Rick Nash — 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 10 April games – Derek Stepan — 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in the last 26 games, including 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in the last 10 contests – Mats Zuccarello — enters the contest with a three-game point streak (three goals, one assist over the span) – Derick Brassard — nine points (three goals, six assists) in nine games as a Ranger – Ryan Callahan — nine points (three goals, six assists) in the last 10 games – Ryane Clowe — seven points (three goals, four assists) in nine games as a Ranger
MILESTONES IN SIGHT: – Steve Eminger — 1 point from 100th NHL career – Taylor Pyatt — 1 game from 800th NHL career – Brad Richards — 4 games from 900th NHL career – Anton Stralman — 1 point from 100th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED: – Henrik Lundqvist — 500th career NHL game (4/5 at PIT) – Ryan Callahan — 400th career NHL game (4/18 vs. FLA)
INJURIES: – Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5/11) — 44 – Marc Staal (injured, 3/5) — 23 – Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle, 3/7) — 9 – Brian Boyle (injured, 4/16) — 2
Total Man-Games Lost: 117
Photo by Getty Images.