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Blackhawks vs. Rangers preview: Chicago looks for fourth straight win

'Hawks visit the red-hot Rangers, who are atop the NHL standings even without King Henrik between the pipes.

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Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Chicago is aiming for its fourth straight win when they visit the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers won the last meeting with a 1-0 overtime victory at Chicago on March 8. Derick Brassard scored 32 seconds into the extra session as the Rangers topped the Blackhawks for a third straight time. The Rangers have won five of the past seven meetings at MSG.

The Blackhawks skated away with a 4-1 victory last night over the New York Islanders with captain Jonathan Toews leading the way with four points off a pair of goals and two assists. Marian Hossa also scored and Patrick Sharp notched two helpers as the top line is clicking on all cylinders.

Corey Crawford made 38 saves to extend the Blackhawks' point streak to six games this month. The Blackhawks are four points back of second-place Nashville in the Central Division and five ahead of Minnesota. The team down south as the division lead.

It's not known if Crawford will get the start again or if backup Scott Darling will make his first appearance since Feb. 27. Crawford is 1-2-1 with a 2.03 goals against average and .931 save percentage in four meetings agains the Rangers.

Here are the starting lines from last night's game:

Sharp Toews Hossa
Saad Vermette Teravainen
Bickell Richards Versteeg
Desjardins Kruger Shaw

Opponent Breakdown: New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist has been cleared to return to practice, while backup Cam Talbot as kept the Rangers in the playoff picture. Talbot and the Blueshirts will look for their sixth consecutive victory.

Lundqvist has not played since Feb. 2 and has been shutdown because of a vascular injury. Lundqvist, perennial Veznia Trophy candidate, is 25-11-3 with a 2.25 GAA, .922 save percentage and five shutouts in 39 starts this season. The Blueshirts won't be rushing him back though as Talbot has gone 13-2-3 since taking over the crease.

Talbot is 17-6-4 with a 2.19 GAA, .926 save percentage and five shutouts in 29 games this season. He's been exceptional in net recently, allowing one goal or less in five of his past six games.

New York is 14-1-2 over its past 17 games and is five points ahead of their Long Island rivals for first place in the Metropolitan Division with an NHL high-tying 95 points.

Talbot has won both starts against Chicago while yielding just one goal on 61 shots in his career.

The Rangers will play without Martin St. Louis (lower-body, 10-14 days) and Klein (upper-body, 3-4 weeks). St. Louis is the team's second leading scorer behind Rick Nash, who is scoreless in his last three games. Nash was shifted to his old line from last year alongside Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, and rookie Kevin Hayes took over Nash's usual spot with Brassard and Mats Zuccarello during Wednesday's practice.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Kane (collarbone)

New York: Martin St. Louis (knee), Kevin Klein (arm) and Henrik Lundqvist (blood vessel).

Game Information

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: Madison Square Garden


Radio: WGN-720

For Chicago Blackhawks tickets, check out Ticketmaster. Follow Second City Hockey on Twitter at @2ndCityHockey and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Cain on Twitter at @BrandonMCain.