Rangers look to move up playoff ladder, host Stars

NHL Hockey
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Chris Kreider looks like he’ll be a game-day decision for the New York Rangers when they host the Dallas Stars on Monday.

The 28-year-old winger was listed as day-to-day Sunday after taking a hit to the head from teammate Mika Zibanejad during Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Kreider, who has 18 goals and 35 points in 50 games this season, is rumored to be on the trading block as the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline approaches. The power forward’s contract is due to expire and, while he has an 11-team no-trade list, he could prove to be a decent rental player for any team down the stretch and through the playoffs.

For now, he remains with the Rangers, and head coach David Quinn brushed off any concerns about his health.

“We don’t think it’s anything long-term,” Quinn said after Saturday’s game. “Surprisingly, after you look at it, it looked tough but he’s already feeling a lot better.”

Quinn’s Rangers are keeping a careful watch on their chances at an Eastern Conference playoff spot — they’re nine points out the wild card — as they prepare to host the Stars, who stand in the middle of the Western Conference pack.

The Rangers have won six of their past nine and Saturday’s shutout against the league-worst Detroit Red Wings was a confidence builder for 37-year-old goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner and five-time All-Star made 33 saves in his first start since Jan. 11.

Lundqvist, who’s fighting with Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin for the starter’s job, went into Saturday’s game with a career-worst 3.18 goals-against average. His last shutout was Nov. 19, 2017, against the Ottawa Senators.

Whomever gets the start Monday against the Stars will face a team that’s 0-for-14 on the power play in its past five games.

Despite that woeful stat, the Stars eked out a 3-2 overtime victory over the host New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Joe Pavelski scored 1:39 into the extra period for his first goal in nine games.

“You always think about (scoring), in every game,” Pavelski said. “You’re trying to do the right things and trying to create and there are stretches where they don’t come as often as you’d like, and we were in one of those.

“There’s been some good looks lately and that’s encouraging. You can live with it, to an extent, when you’re getting those looks and chances and tonight there were a few.”

With nine goals and 20 points, Pavelski, in his first season with the Stars after 13 with the San Jose Sharks, is on pace for his lowest-scoring season since 2012-13, when he was limited to 48 games.

Stars interim coach Rick Bowness said Pavelski has been rushing things.

“Joe’s had a couple really good looks,” Bowness said. “Funny thing, when you’re not scoring, you’re shooting right in the middle of the net. When you’re scoring, you’re taking that extra half a second and picking corners. When you’re not scoring, you’re just hurrying your shots and I think that’s what Joe is doing.”

On the positive side, Stars center Tyler Seguin pointed out that the Stars are getting balanced scoring.

Seguin leads the Dallas crew with 37 points on 11 goals and 26 assists, while Alexander Radulov and Roope Hintz each have 15 goals. Captain Jamie Benn follows with 14 and rookie Denis Gurianov with 13.

“It’s been different guys at different times,” Seguin said after Saturday’s OT victory. “But it was great to see (Pavelski) score that one.”

–Field Level Media

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