Jets-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

John Tortorella thinks the New York Rangers need something good to happen in order to regain their confidence.

Getting a slew of players back and starting their longest homestand of the season could help.

While several players are expected to return, it's unclear if Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh will be among them as the Rangers attempt to avoid their longest losing streak in two years Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

New York (8-7-2) has been one of the league's more disappointing teams, and it's losing streak reached three games with a 3-0 defeat at Montreal on Saturday. The team hasn't dealt with a longer slide since dropping six in a row from Jan. 25-Feb. 11, 2011.

The Rangers are one point below the playoff cutoff in the Eastern Conference after winning it with 109 last season.

"I think this is a team that needs something good to happen to it and try to gain some confidence back," Tortorella said. "I think it's a matter of staying with it and taking it day-by-day. There's a tremendous amount of expectations put on this team."

Having some players return healthy could provide a lift.

New York may have defensemen Michael Del Zotto (undisclosed injury) and Dan Girardi (ankle) and center Darroll Powe (concussion) back, but it's unclear if Nash and McDonagh will join them.

Del Zotto missed one game, while Girardi took a hard shot by P.K. Subban off his ankle in the final minute Saturday. McDonagh was also hurt in that contest, suffering a facial laceration after being boarded by Max Pacioretty.

"Mac is obviously a huge part of our D corps," defenseman Marc Staal told the team's official website. "He is a special player."

Still, Nash's absence may be the most significant since he leads the team with 12 points. He's missed three games with an undisclosed injury.

If Nash is out again, then perhaps starting a four-game stretch at Madison Square Garden can provide a spark since the Rangers are 6-3-1 there.

"You always want to play good on home ice. You always want to get wins at home," captain Ryan Callahan said. "We got a bunch of games here at the Garden, and I think it's a good start for us to get on a roll."

Callahan has 11 points over the past nine meetings with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise. He joined Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik with five points each in helping the Rangers sweep the four-game season series with the Jets (8-9-1) in 2011-12.

New York won both meetings at MSG by 3-0 scores.

Winnipeg is looking to conclude a five-game road trip with a fourth victory after beating New Jersey 4-2 on Sunday.

"It's really unbelievable," coach Claude Noel said. "This team is resilient. They've faced adversity all year.

"There's a quiet confidence right now. For some reason, we're finding ways to score. I think it's part of maturity and growth. We went through a lot of struggles on the road last year. We understand now what it takes to win on the road."

Andrew Ladd has been a big part of the recent success on the road, scoring three goals and setting up two others. The captain leads the team with 10 goals and 17 points overall, while Blake Wheeler isn't far behind with 16 after getting five in the past three games.

Evander Kane has one point in seven consecutive games, one shy of his career high set from Feb. 16-March 1, 2012. The left wing has seven points in nine meetings with the Rangers.

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