Preview: Rangers at Devils
After making a brief return home to snap a three-game losing streak, the New York Rangers will make the short trek to the Garden State to face the Atlantic Division-rival New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Derek Stepan netted his team's lone goal in regulation while Rick Nash and rookie J.T. Miller scored in the shootout as New York scratched for a 2-1 win over Carolina on Monday. The victory notwithstanding, the Rangers are in dire need of some offense after mustering just three goals in their last four games.
David Clarkson won't shed a tear for New York - after all, New Jersey is 4-8-3 in its last 15 contests to fall to eighth place in the competitive Eastern Conference - two points ahead of the Rangers. "It's like playoff hockey, and this is a must-win for both teams," Clarkson told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. "You look at the standings and where we are. Every game is so important."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), MSG Plus2 (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (14-12-2): With the offense in a pronounced drought, coach John Tortorella placed his key eggs in one basket with studs Brad Richards, Nash and the struggling Marian Gaborik on the same line. The trio didn't come through on Monday, although Stepan continued his stellar play. The promising star has collected five tallies and as many assists in his last 10 contests.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (13-10-6): Martin Brodeur, who has been sidelined for 12 games with a pinched nerve in his neck and upper back, admitted he felt pain-free after working out with the club on Monday. The future Hall of Famer is not expected to start on Tuesday but could trade his cushy seat in the press box for one on the bench in a backup role to Johan Hedberg. The 40-year-old Brodeur, who last played on Feb. 21 versus Washington, has his eyes on Thursday's game versus the Hurricanes for a possible return.
1. Hedberg likely will start his career-high 13th straight game for New Jersey. The results haven't been kind to the 39-year-old Swede (3-7-2), but he is 12-5-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average in his career against New York.
2. Clarkson netted a pair of goals in the Devils' 3-1 win over the Rangers on Feb. 5.
3. Gaborik is mired in a six-game goalless drought and has just one in 15 contests.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Devils 2
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