Henrik Lundqvist steadily is working his way up the NHL career wins list and could climb another rung up the ladder on Thursday as the New York Rangers visit the New Jersey Devils. Lundqvist, who resides one win shy of matching Tony Esposito (423) for eighth place on the all-time list, has more victories (36) and shutouts (eight) against the Devils than versus any other team.
Lundqvist turned aside 39 shots in New York’s 4-1 triumph over Anaheim on Tuesday, giving the club three straight wins and points in 17 of the last 22 games (16-5-1). “We’re playing some pretty good hockey. Our body of work here for the last 20-something games has been pretty good,” said the Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, who is one victory shy of tying Darryl Sutter (634) for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list among head coaches. New Jersey has proven to be a tough customer this season and showed its resilience on Monday after rallying from a two-goal deficit to post a 5-3 win versus former Devil Adam Henrique and Anaheim. New Jersey has scored five goals in each of its last three games at The Rock, including the first two on its season-high six-game homestand.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), MSG-Plus2 (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (19-12-3): Mats Zuccarello is riding high with a four-game point streak and has accumulated 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) and a plus-14 rating in his last 22 contests. The 30-year-old Norwegian highlighted that stretch with a two-goal performance in a 5-2 win over New Jersey on Dec. 9, giving him 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 25 career encounters versus the Devils. Fellow forward Kevin Hayes also tallied in that game against New Jersey and has two goals and an assist during New York’s current win streak.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (19-9-5): Miles Wood set a career high for goals after capping his third multi-goal performance of the season on Monday while former Duck Stefan Noesen also tallied twice. Ex-Ranger Brian Boyle added three assists for his second straight three-point performance, giving him 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last 13 games as he continues his amazing comeback from leukemia. Boyle, however, was held off the scoresheet in the last meeting with the Rangers, with whom he spent five seasons from 2009-14.
1. New York LW Paul Carey scored twice versus the Ducks to increase his point total to six points (three goals, three assists) in the past nine games.
2. New Jersey C Marcus Johansson is expected to return from a four-game absence due to a bruised ankle.
3. New York RW Michael Grabner has scored in back-to-back contests and has three goals and an assist during his four-game point streak.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Devils 2