NHL

Rangers-Devils Preview

Derek Stepan and Henrik Lundqvist have the New York Rangers atop the NHL and closing in on the best regular season in franchise history.

First, they'll try to sweep the season series with the New Jersey Devils for the first time since that record-setting campaign.

With Lundqvist settling in nicely following an injury, Stepan looks to find the net again as the Rangers go for a sixth straight win over the lowly Devils on Tuesday night.

Stepan has 12 points in nine games after going without one for 12 straight. The center's 55 points are just two shy of his career high set in 2013-14.

Lundqvist has won four straight starts behind a 1.97 goals-against average after making 26 saves in a 4-2 loss at Boston on March 28 in his return from a throat injury.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner's recent winning streak includes a 35-save effort in a 6-1 romp of New Jersey on Saturday. He followed that by making 29 in a 4-3 overtime win against Columbus two days later.

Stepan was vital to that victory, scoring with 28 seconds left in regulation before finding the net again with 50 seconds remaining in overtime. He also had two points against the Devils, giving him five in two games.

Stepan's clutch scoring Monday gave New York (51-21-7) sole possession of the NHL lead with 109 points, two in front of Anaheim with three games left - one more than the Ducks.

The Rangers' franchise record is 112 points set in 1993-94, the last time they won the Presidents' Trophy and - more importantly - the Stanley Cup.

"I think in order to have success in the playoffs, you have to be able to handle ebbs and flows," Stepan said. "We've been able to find ways to win hockey games."

It was also the last time they swept the Devils in the regular season, taking all six matchups. They've won all three this season, including scoring the final three goals in a 4-3 overtime win in their most recent visit to Newark on Oct. 21.

Sweeping the Metropolitan Division rivalry would clinch home-ice in the Eastern Conference and give New York a chance to win the Presidents' Trophy on Thursday against Ottawa at Madison Square Garden.

"It's a huge accomplishment," captain Ryan McDonagh said of potentially finishing on top of the overall standings. "It's about us playing to our strengths and giving us a chance to win."

Backup goalie Cam Talbot certainly did that while Lundqvist was out, and he'll close out a back-to-back for the second time since Lundqvist has returned. Talbot stopped 26 of 30 shots in Sunday's 5-2 loss to Washington.

He's never faced New Jersey.

The Devils (32-34-13) have been off since being routed by the Rangers on Saturday, and they're looking for payback.

"It's a rival game," said center Scott Gomez, who's played for both teams. "You get a chance to play a team that gave you a pretty good whipping. You bet. We've got pride over here."

Cory Schneider is seeking a better performance after giving up three goals on six shots before being pulled midway through the first period.

"I'm definitely not happy, myself," Schneider said. "We're not happy with anything about that game so I am looking forward to playing again and getting another chance at them."

Schneider has a 4.01 GAA while losing all three season meetings with New York.

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