Sharks battle Rangers in NYC

( – The New York Rangers will try to record consecutive
victories for the first time this season when they host the quick-starting San
Jose Sharks in Sunday’s encounter at Madison Square Garden.

After halting a three-game slide in Thursday’s home test against Carolina, the
Rangers are eager to put another one in the win column but will have to do so
against a Sharks team that has yet to incur a regulation loss through five
games (4-0-1).

New York began 2014-15 with a win in St. Louis before dropping three in a row
against Columbus, Toronto and the New York Islanders. However, the defending
Eastern Conference champions were able to snap the skid with a 2-1 victory
over the Hurricanes, as Rick Nash recorded the lone goal of the shootout at
Madison Square Garden.

Nash beat Anton Khudobin down low after faking a backhand attempt to begin the
third round. Henrik Lundqvist then turned away a hard shot from Ryan Murphy to
give New York its first home win after a pair of setbacks to open its current
four-game homestand.

“A win is a win and two points are two points,” Rangers head coach Alain
Vigneault remarked. “Our goalie stepped up at the right time, stepped up in
the shootout. Our best scorer scored in the shootout. We have to find ways to
win and get two points. That is what we did tonight.”

The Rangers trailed 1-0 before Derick Brassard scored near the midway mark of
the third period. Lundqvist, who had been shelled for 12 goals over the
previous two games, bounced back to stop 29-of-30 chances and all three
Carolina skaters in the shootout.

Lundqvist will start Sunday and he is 2-3-0 with a 2.66 goals against average
in six career outings against the Sharks.

San Jose’s lone loss of the season came in a road shootout defeat Thursday
against the New York Islanders. However, the Sharks were able to rebound from
that 4-3 setback by notching Saturday’s 4-2 victory in New Jersey.

Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists to help San
Jose spoil the Devils’ home opener. The victory pushed the Sharks to 2-0-1 on
a five-game road trip that is set to end Tuesday in Boston.

Patrick Marleau recorded a goal and an assist and Antti Niemi came up with 35
saves for the Sharks. Joe Thornton added an empty-net score to seal the win.

San Jose led 3-0 after Marleau scored his fourth goal of the season just 1:36
into the third period before New Jersey cut the deficit to 3-2.

“They made a good push, but we were lucky enough to hang on,” said Thornton.
“They were very strong after we scored that third goal.”

Alex Stalock expects to start in net for the Sharks on Sunday. He has never
faced the Rangers.

The Sharks won both meetings against the Rangers in 2013-14, pounding New York
9-2 in San Jose on Oct. 8 before posting a 1-0 win in the Big Apple on March

San Jose has claimed four of the past six encounters between the clubs overall
and has taken two of three at MSG.