(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will try to eliminate the rival New
Jersey Devils from playoff contention and also help their own postseason
chances when the clubs meet Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, who were knocked out of last year's postseason by the Devils in
the East finals, can end the defending conference champion's playoff hopes
with a win in Sunday's game. New Jersey is six points behind the eighth-seeded
Rangers with four games left for both teams.
New York is one point ahead of Winnipeg for the East's final playoff spot and
has a game in hand to use over the idle Jets on Sunday.
The Rangers hope they can ride their surging offense to a third straight win
in Sunday's game. New York tied its best goal output of the season in a 6-1
thrashing of the visiting Florida Panthers on Thursday before notching an 8-4
win the following night in Buffalo.
Behind Brad Richards' first career hat trick, the Rangers recorded their best
offensive showing of the season in the rout of the Sabres at First Niagara
Richards, Carl Hagelin and Ryane Clowe all potted goals in the final 78
seconds of the first period to spur New York to its second lopsided victory in
as many nights. Richards also lit the lamp early in the second as part of a
five-goal outburst over a span of 2:58, the quickest for that amount in
"It was a weird night, in a good way," Richards said afterward. "I'm just
trying to stay with it, plug away. Sometimes the game treats you in weird
Clowe and Rick Nash each finished with a goal and an assist in the critical
win. Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan also scored to support a 24-save effort
from Henrik Lundqvist.
The Devils, meanwhile, kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Saturday thanks
to a 6-2 win over the visiting Florida Panthers. Patrik Elias scored one of
New Jersey's four second-period goals to lead the way in the rout of the
Elias finished with two tallies and Martin Brodeur needed to make only 11
saves for the Devils. Travis Zajac had two assists for New Jersey, which
snapped a team record-tying 10-game losing streak with Thursday's 3-0 triumph
in Philadelphia. The slide began after the last time the club won consecutive
games on March 21-23.
Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a right shoulder injury in the Devils'
March 23 home victory against these same Panthers and finally returned to the
lineup Saturday after an 11-game absence.
"I think we played with a lot more intensity, just what we needed," Brodeur
said. "We didn't do anything special. We just played with a little more
intensity and were able to find a little offense for a change."
The Devils are just 6-8-8 as the visiting team this season and they had lost
six straight on the road before winning in Philadelphia on Thursday. The
Rangers, meanwhile, are 14-6-2 on home ice and have won their last four games
at the Garden.
This is the second-to-last meeting of the season between the Devils and
Rangers, who will meet again at MSG on Saturday. The clubs have split a pair
of meetings in 2013 so far and New York has won three of the last five
New Jersey has lost two straight and three of its last four in New York City,
not including last year's playoff series. This is the Devils' first game in
NYC since winning Game 5 of the conference finals on May 23.
The Sports Network