The Rangers will take on the Islanders where they must continue to keep winning in their fight for a playoff spot (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG2).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Islanders
5thEast Ranking2nd

               The Blueshirts are on the charge as they desperately try to catch one of the top four teams in the East. The main target appeared to be the Boston Bruins, but they have turned it on as of late and they like the Rangers, are on a four-game winning streak. The Bruins schedule is very favorable with seven games remaining against the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils. Catching Boston may be close to impossible unless Boston hits a slump.

               But is it crazy to say the Rangers could catch the Islanders who are currently eight points ahead? If the Rangers win tonight in regulation, the gap between the two teams will disappear to six points. The Rangers and Islanders are still scheduled to meet two more times after Tuesday night. If the Rangers can take care of business against the Islanders for the remaining three games – the gap between the two teams could shrink to just two points. The Rangers have won four in a row and they must just continue to win games and hope they catch someone.

               Also going in their favor is that the Islanders have struggled to score in the past eight games. Long Island has managed just eleven goals in the past eight games. The Islanders are really struggling to score but they have excelled on the defensive aspect of the game. Despite scoring just eleven goals, they hold a 5-3-0 record including four of those wins coming after regulation. They may be toward the bottom of the league in terms of entertaining hockey, but you cannot argue the results and the success they have had.

               The key for the Blueshirts in Tuesday’s game will be scoring the first goal. The Islanders are 19-1-2 this season when they have scored the first goal of the game. Scoring first allows them to go into their defensive shell and limit the opportunities for the opponent. It is extremely difficult to come back against the Islanders. But should the Islanders score first, the Rangers will have some confidence they can come back as they erased a two-goal deficit to the Islanders just nine days ago.

               The expected goaltender matchup will be Igor Shesterkin against Semyon Varlamov. Islanders’ backup goalie Ilya Sorokin has had the past two starts and is coming off a shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers. Sorokin was also victorious in overtime against the Rangers just nine days ago. Shesterkin has won his previous three games including two shutouts. The 25-year-old made a brief unscheduled appearance during Saturday’s game in New Jersey after Alex Georgiev was forced out of the game due to injury. Shesterkin made two saves before Georgiev was ready to return to the game. Keith Kinkaid is the third-string and will backup Shesterkin if Georgiev isn’t healthy.

               The Rangers youth have stepped up as of recent games and they are getting more comfortable with the season winding down. In the previous game, Vitaly Kravtsov recorded his first career NHL goal and Alexis Lafreniere got himself a goal by going in front of the net. The youth is getting more and more confident and the results are starting to show.

Projected Lineup