Defensive Struggles

New York, NY - The New York Rangers have responded well to being shut out this season. In order to bounce back from their latest blanking, though, they'll have to find a way to shore up their defense at home.

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After closing a mostly successful road trip with a lackluster effort, the Rangers look to end their recent defensive struggles at Madison Square Garden in a matchup with the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night, their final game before the All-Star break.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Rangers –150 money line favorites for Tuesday’s game against the Ducks. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 76% of more than 215 bets for this game have been placed on the Rangers -150.

After winning three of the first four games on its trip, New York (27-16-4) fell 3-0 to Pittsburgh on Sunday - the third time the Rangers have been shut out this season.

New York won its next game each of the previous two times it was shut out this season. The Rangers, however, may need to score a lot of goals if they want to do so again in their return to MSG.

Before departing on its trip, New York had one of its worst defensive performances of the season, losing 6-3 to Montreal on Jan. 7. The Rangers have allowed at least four goals in four of their last five home games, going 2-2-1.

New York's Henrik Lundqvist has started every game in that span, posting a 3.62 goals-against average. In the four games he started during the road trip, however, his GAA was 1.49.

Lundqvist also played well in a 3-1 win at Anaheim on Dec. 16, making 20 saves.

The goaltender had some big moments against the Penguins, stopping Sidney Crosby on a penalty shot, but he allowed all three Pittsburgh goals and got no help offensively from his teammates.

Rangers winger Markus Naslund, second on the team with 14 goals, has been held without a point in his last five games and hasn't recorded a goal in his last eight contests.

Naslund, though, has three goals and an assist in his last six home games, and him and his teammates will face a Ducks club that gave up 18 goals in five games before beating Minnesota 3-0 on Saturday night.

"Everyone knew we had to make some changes and fight a little more," Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller said. "We can't keep going like we were."

Anaheim (23-19-5) had lost eight of its previous 10 on the road and four of five overall. The Ducks, who visit the Islanders on Wednesday night before the All-Star break, are 10-9-2 on the road.

Anaheim had been falling in the Western Conference standings this month with several regulars out with injuries, including star winger Teemu Selanne (thigh). The Ducks, in fifth place in the West, slowed that slide Saturday with a big boost from Hiller.

The second-year player made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and is 11-8-1 with a 2.09 GAA in 22 appearances - 18 starts - this season.

Anaheim got two goals from Corey Perry against the Wild to help it bounce back from a 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh the previous night. Perry has three goals in the last three games after scoring two times in his previous nine contests.

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Posted: 1/20/09 3:00AM ET


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