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Rangers Weekly Report - 3/28

Henrik Lundqvist returns for the Rangers. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

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After checking in on the Rangers following the team’s 3-2 win over the Wild on Saturday, March 18, the Blueshirts struggled this past week, claiming only three of a possible eight points in four games.

But Henrik Lundqvist is BACK. The premier New York goaltender returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing seven games over a three-week span

Beginning the week with a pair of New York metropolitan area battles, the Rangers fell to the Eastern Conference worst Devils 3-2 in overtime in Newark on Tuesday night. Despite 40 shots on goal, the squad only beat New Jersey net-minder Cory Schneider twice, including Rick Nash’s 19th goal of the season to tie the score at two in the third period. Joseph Blandisi kept the Rangers out of the win column, scoring the overtime winner for Jersey’s team with less than a minute left in the extra stanza.

A quick turnaround and a return home to the World’s Most Famous Arena for a Wednesday night tilt with the Islanders saw a similar result. After leading 1-0 and 2-1 in the second period, the home team let it slip away. Nikolay Kulemin tied it at two in the third for the playoff-chasing Isles before Andrew Ladd netted his 20th goal of the season with 7:22 left to pace the Barclays bunch to the W.

The Rangers then hit the west coast to begin a short three-game California trip. And Antti Raanta, making his ninth straight start between the Ranger pipes, came to play against the Kings. Stopping all 30 shots faced, Raanta picked up his fourth win over the nine game stretch. Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad and Rick Nash all scored in the shutout win.

The following night, Henrik Lundqvist returned to the lineup, getting the start in Orange County against the Ducks. But it was a “challenging game” according to the King, who allowed five goals in his first start back as the Rangers fell 6-3. Tied at three entering the third, the wheels came off a bit as the Ducks struck for three goals, including an empty net goal, in the final period.

Overall, the Rangers turned in a 1-2-1 week and did not lose any ground in the standings. Having Lundqvist return in time to sharpen up before the playoff push is certainly the best news from the week that was.

The Blueshirts currently have the fourth most points in the Eastern Conference, but remain fourth in the Metropolitan Division. They currently sit as the first wild card, and trail the Penguins and Blue Jackets for a #2 seed by seven points with six games to play. They are 12 points clear of Boston, who currently sits as the second wild card.

The Rangers can clinch a playoff berth tonight with a win against the Sharks or a Bruins loss in any fashion.

The team concludes its three game west coast swing at 10:30 p.m. EST when the puck drops in San Jose. The Sharks can also clinch a playoff spot with a win prior to a shootout.

The squad is back at MSG on Friday to take on the Penguins at 7 p.m. before hosting the Flyers on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.