Game 73: Beating The Rangers Is Nice. Beating Them To Potentially Clinch A Playoff Spot Is Better

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The Matchup: The New York Rangers (32-32-9) face off against the New Jersey Devils (43-25-4). This is the sixth and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Devils lead the season series, 3-2.

Henrik LundqvistThe Last Rangers Game: The Rangers shut out the New York Islanders, 5-0, last night in the Garden. Marian Gaborik netted two goals and one assist in the victory. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils powerplay scored three goals en-route to a victory, 6-3, over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Left-winger Ilya Kovalchuk tallied four points (1 G, 3 A), by far his most productive game as a Devil. Travis Zajac finished with two goals. The victory was the 40th for Martin Brodeur, marking the eighth time in his career he’s won 40 or more games in his career.

The Last Rangers – Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Rangers, 6-3, March 10 at The Rock. The Devils scored five goals and chased Lundqvist to the bench in the second period. The Devils received goals from five different players in the win.

Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils played one of their best games Tuesday night against Columbus. They actually played a 60-minute effort, and it showed in the final results. Yes, they had their off-moments, but the team finally put the effort on the table. With the effort came goals, and the offense really looked good. The powerplay finally clicked, and it seemed the Devils were in control for most of the game.

Coming into tonight, they have to bring that same intensity. The Rangers, who sit five points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, will come into tonight’s game looking for another big victory. The Devils, who sit one point behind Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, and with a win tonight they inch closer to a playoff berth. If the Devils win and the Atlanta Thrashers loss, the Devils make the playoffs for the 13th consecutive years. The Devils can also clinch with an overtime or shootout loss. But the team should want to win outright to clinch their playoff spot.

I expect another solid, 60-minute game from the Devils. The intensity always rises when these two teams face off, and I expect the Devils to rise to that level. I like the way the powerplay looked, and the Devils should be able to net at least another powerplay goal tonight. Despite the Rangers win last night, they’re still a middle-of-the-pack team. These are two big points tonight. The Devils need to get those points to get back ahead of Pittsburgh.

There was an optional morning skate, so no lines to look at right now. Check back with the live blog for the updated lines for tonight’s matchup.

Gametime is 7 p.m. on MSG Plus. Remember to visit Running With The Devils for a live game blog!

Photo: Henrik Lundqvist allowed five goals and was pulled in the second period on March 10. Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo

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