Preview: Islanders at Rangers
The New York Rangers are in the midst of an ugly tailspin and face the prospect of trying to get back on track against one of their biggest nemesis when they host the New York Islanders on Thursday night in the first leg of a home-and-home series. The Rangers shut out the Islanders 5-0 on Nov. 21, ending an eight-game losing streak (0-7-1) in the series.
The Rangers are 0-4-0 in 2019 and have been outscored by a staggering 22-5 margin after dropping a 4-2 decision at red-hot Vegas on Tuesday in the finale of a three-game road trip. “Any time you play a rival, it gives it more juice,” Rangers coach David Quinn said in looking ahead to the upcoming matchup versus the Islanders. “But we’ve certainly got to get out of this rut we’re in.” The Islanders had a six-game winning streak halted Tuesday, giving up a pair of late goals in a 4-3 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. "It's tough, we were obviously on a roll," forward Brock Nelson said after the team's second loss in 11 games. "We wanted to come back at home and keep it going."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG Plus2, MSG
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (23-14-4): Backup netminder Thomas Greiss received the start Tuesday due to his success against Carolina this season, but Robin Lehner likely be back in net Thursday. Named the NHL's Third Star of the Week on Monday after compiling a 3-0-0 mark with a 1.99 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, Lehner has won his last seven decisions while surrendering a combined eight goals in that span. However, Lehner has struggled in his career against the Rangers, giving up all five goals in the Nov. 21 loss to drop to 2-5-2 with a 3.86 GAA and .892 save percentage
ABOUT THE RANGERS (17-18-7): Mika Zibanejad, who ended a nine-game goal drought against the Golden Knights to boost his team-leading total to 35 points, has one goal in nine games versus the Islanders since joining the Rangers -- although he does have six assists in that span. Chris Kreider, who has a team-high 20 goals, has not scored in the past five games but had a goal and set up another in the victory over the Islanders on Nov. 21. Kevin Hayes scored in each of the two meetings versus the Islanders and had multiple points in six of 11 contests overall before sitting out the last three games.
1. The Islanders have won 12 of the last 14 meetings in the series.
2. Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist is 1-5-2 in his last 10 appearances against the Islanders.
3. Islanders F Anthony Beauvillier had three goals and an assist in a 7-5 win over the Rangers on Nov. 15 but has not scored in eight games.
PREDICTION: Islanders 4, Rangers 3