Isles, Rangers meet for Metro showdown

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( - The New York Islanders continue to lead the Metropolitan Division, but the New York Rangers have become a serious challenger to that spot over the past month.

The Rangers return home looking for a sixth consecutive victory on Tuesday night as they host the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

The Islanders have gone 4-2-0 on a seven-game road trip that concludes tonight and lead the division with 57 points, one more than the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the Rangers have charged up the Eastern Conference ladder by winning 13 of their past 14 games and sit in a wild card spot while closing to within five points of the Isles.

The Blueshirts went perfect on a three-game swing through California, capping the trip with Saturday's 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist, while Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash also scored and Derek Stepan had a pair of assists.

Henrik Lundqvist posted 30 saves to help extend the Rangers' best 14-game run since a 14-0-1 stretch from Jan. 7-Feb. 10, 1973.

"It was exciting and intense," Lundqvist said. "We found a way to win this one and we battled really hard. We wanted to finish off strong here on this road trip."

Lundqvist is 11-1-0 with a 1.57 goals against average and a .939 save percentage over his past 12 appearances, and Saturday's win made him the first goaltender in NHL history to record at least 20 victories in each of his first 10 seasons.

Nash, meanwhile, has a goal in three of his past four games and is tied for the NHL lead with 26.

The Islanders, meanwhile, picked up wins on back-to-back nights as they continued their road trip. They defeated New Jersey on Friday before rolling to a 5-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Matt Martin, Anders Lee and Brian Strait all had second-period goals, with Strait also assisting on Kyle Okposo's third-period marker. Nikolay Kulemin scored as well and both Ryan Strome and Thomas Hickey had a pair of assists.

"We have some chemistry here," Strait said. "The coach has been doing a great job this year getting us to go in the right direction."

New York outshot the Blue Jackets by a 40-18 margin, with Chad Johnson needing to record just 16 saves to collect the victory.

Mikhail Grabovski did not play on Saturday due to a lower-body injury and is questionable for this game.

The Islanders did record a 6-3 victory over the Ranges on Oct. 14 at Madison Square Garden, where they have won four of their past five. Okposo had a goal and Jaroslav Halak posted 40 saves in the first of five meetings between the clubs.

Nash scored twice, but Lundqvist yielded six goals on 27 shots. The netminder fell to 29-13-5 in his career versus the Isles with a 2.15 GAA, .922 save percentage and five shutouts.

Halak should start tonight and is 8-4-0 versus the Blueshirts with a 2.75 GAA and .913 save percentage.

The Rangers do have a point in 12 straight games against fellow Metropolitan Division residents (11-0-1), including a win in eight in a row.