NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Saturday’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. Regionalized coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Lightning and the Islanders – the top two teams in the East – faced off on Friday night, with Tampa Bay taking a 1-0 win in a shootout. The only puck that found the back of the net was Victor Hedman’s game-winning tally in the shootout. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves in his fourth shutout of the season. Tampa is now 4-0 in shootouts this season. Only the Rangers (5) have more shootout wins.
With 78 points, the Lightning occupy first place in the NHL, and are seen points ahead of the Flames (71 points) for most in the league. They have alternated wins and losses over the past seven games.
After a 4-3 win over the rival Devils on Thursday, the Rangers have won four of their last five games and sit eight points out of a playoff spot after playing their best hockey since November.
Despite their recent success, New York is expected to be sellers at the trade deadline for the second consecutive year. Last season, the Lightning were one of the primary beneficiaries acquiring Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller.
Perhaps the most likely asset to be traded by the Rangers this season is Mats Zuccarello, who is in the final year of his contract ($4.5M cap hit). Zuccarello has led the Rangers in points in each of the last three seasons, but is 31 years old and undersized at just 5-foot-8, 184 pounds. It is unlikely the Rangers offer him a long-term deal, thus making him trade bait.
Zuccarello has missed 14 games this season with groin and foot issues. But when he’s played, Zuccarello has been effective with 27 points (8G, 19A) in 36 games. He currently has a personal point streak of six games (4G, 8A).
What: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: Saturday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m. ET
Live stream: You can watch the Lightning-Rangers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.
Victor Hedman — Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Starting goalie: Louis Dominque
Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist