The New York Rangers wilted in the shootout portion of a showdown with the Montreal Canadiens.
They’ll seek to avoid a similar fate on Thursday night, as they’ll face off with the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Air Canada Centre (7:30, MSG).
The Rangers (38-19-2) are coming off the aforementioned shootout loss, dropping a 3-2 decision to Montreal on Tuesday night. Facing off against a potential playoff opponent, the Rangers did manage to make up two separate deficits, as goals by Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash earned the Rangers a point. Mats Zuccarello scored a goal in the ensuing shootout, but the Canadiens countered with goals by Alexander Radulov and Paul Byron for the extra tally.
Seeking their first playoff berth since 2012, the Maple Leafs (28-20-11) currently hold the final automatic playoff spot in the Atlantic, having won their past two games, including Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets, a highly anticipated showdown between rookie sensations, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Matthews would end up assisting on the game winning goal, scored by Jake Gardiner. Toronto trailed 4-3 entering the third but sent it into overtime thanks to a game-tying goal scored by William Nylander, son of former Ranger Michael.
This will be the third and final meeting between the two Original Six opponents, the two teams having split their two games thus far, each winning on the other’s home ice. The Rangers won the last meeting 5-2 at Air Canada Center on January 19. Michael Grabner scored two third period goals to put the game away, while Miller, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich also scored. Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves in victory.
Seeking to bolster a struggling power play unit, which has gone 1-for-18 over the past seven games, the Rangers will reinsert Brandon Pirri in their lineup tonight. Pirri, who has not played since January 31, is tied for the team lead with five power play goals. He’ll sub in for Buchnevich.