Antti Raanta has never seen the type of exposure he’s going to get over the next two-to-three weeks. But if his performances are anything like his recent outputs…namely his masterful display against the Tampa Bay Lightning last week…the New York Rangers should be fine while they wait for Henrik Lundqvist to return for the playoffs.
Raanta is expected to get the start once more in place of the injured Lundqvist, as the Rangers return home from a four-game road trip to host the aforementioned Lightning at home (7:00, MSG).
The Rangers (44-23-2) finished their road trip 3-1-0, capping it off with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night. Ryan McDonagh tallied his first multi-goal game in two year, scoring the first two Ranger goals. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist, while Derek Stepan ended a 23-game scoreless streak in style, scoring top shelf on a power play to top off the final tally.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay (32-26-9) is still in the midst of a fight for the NHL playoffs, currently three points behind Toronto for the second Eastern Conference wild card, and five points behind Boston for the final automatic playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. They’re coming off a 3-2 win over Florida, earning it on Saturday night at Amalie Arena. The Lightning made up a 2-0 first period deficit, Nikita Kucherov and Yanni Gourde scored in the second, the latter picking up his first NHL goal, before Ondrej Palat won it in the third period.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Lightning this season, with the Rangers having taken the first two tilts. The most recent tilt came during the recent Rangers’ road trip, occurring exactly one week ago in Tampa. Raanta made 38 saves in a shutout effort, keeping the Lightning off the scoresheet before Mika Zibanejad scored in overtime for the 1-0 win. The Rangers won the first meeting at Madison Square Garden 6-1 on October 30.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490