Preview: Lightning at Rangers
The New York Rangers are 0-3-1 since losing power forward Rick Nash to an undisclosed injury. Nash has begun skating with the team and could make a return when the Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Ryan McDonagh, who missed the last game with a head injury, is most likely to be back in the lineup while fellow defenseman Michael Del Zotto (leg) and Nash are still considered questionable. All three practiced on Wednesday, but the Rangers must find a way to improve their average of 2.39 goals.The Lightning, who have dropped both games to New York this season, also have injury concerns as they start a four-game road trip. Veteran defenseman Sami Salo went down with a lower-body injury in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Buffalo and is not expected to play on Thursday.TV: 7 p.m. ET, RDS, SunSports (Tampa), MSG (New York).ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (9-9-1): Tampa Bay has dropped two straight and missed several prime scoring opportunities in the loss to the struggling Sabres. Steven Stamkos extended his goal-scoring streak to six games, but the Lightning failed on six power-play chances. Salo, who did travel with the team, has eight points and is a team-best plus-11 while playing on the top pair with Victor Hedman. Other defensemen will have to take on more minutes and blue-liner Brendan Mikkelson was recalled after a conditioning stint. Mathieu Garon is expected to start in goal for the third time in four games.ABOUT THE RANGERS (8-8-2): Nash has certainly shown his importance to the Rangers. The 6-4 left wing had 12 points in the first 14 games and was a team-leading plus-9. One thing he did not help improve immediately was the power play, which ranks second to last in the league at 11.1 percent. A big part of that is the slow start of Brad Richards. The former Lightning center has produced only two goals and 10 assists - two with the man advantage. Marian Gaborik has also struggled lately, collecting only two goals the last 13 games after recording five in the first five contests of the season.OVERTIME1. The Lightning, who still lead the league in goals, are 4-for-41 on the power play over the last 11 games.2. New York LW Carl Hagelin has six goals - with three of them coming against the Lightning.3. Lightning LW Cory Conacher, who leads all rookies in scoring, has a six-game point streak.PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Lightning 2.
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