By: David Kolb
NEW YORK RANGERS (28-16-1) @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (21-13-8)
FIRST VISIT TO TORONTO
The New York Rangers head north of the border to skate in an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will be the second of three games the clubs play, as the Leafs doubled-up the Blueshirts on Jan. 13 by a score of 4-2. The Rangers will look to reverse course tonight as they are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The Leafs meanwhile have strung three wins together after edging the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday.
Derek Stepan scored two goals and added a power play helper Tuesday against Dallas, giving him three goals and three assists in his past two games. He has 15 points in his past 12 tilts, while notching 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points on the season. Stepan was held off the board in the first meeting with the Leafs, and looks to change that this time around.
SPOTLIGHT ON MATTHEWS
Leafs’ super-rookie Auston Matthews scored his 22nd goal of the season Tuesday against the Sabres, extending his point-streak to three games (one goal, two assists). Matthews picked up an assist last week in his first career game with the Blueshirts, and now has four goals and four assists in seven January games.
Rangers’ forward Pavel Buchnevich scored a goal and picked up two assists in their loss to the Dallas Stars. Since his return from injury, he has recorded a goal and four assists in his first three games. Buchnevich missed two months of action, but he is now showing brilliant flashes of offense while averaging a point-per-game in his rookie campaign. The Russian has tallied five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 13 games.
Mats Zuccarello gained three assists in his last tilt with the Stars, giving him eight goals and 27 assists for 35 points. In 11 career games against Toronto, Zuccarello has nine goals with six assists for 15 points. No. 36 begins the night with a six-game point streak against the Leafs, having tallied 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last four contests.