Predators-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Their latest defeat prompted the New York Rangers to hold a closed-door, players-only meeting they hope will resolve some issues and help the team get back on track.

The slumping Nashville Predators are searching for answers of their own.

New York looks to avoid a fourth straight home loss while dealing Nashville a sixth consecutive defeat Tuesday night.

The Rangers (15-15-1) seemed out of sync in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Washington, a performance that came one night after opening a franchise-record nine-game homestand with a 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey.

They've lost three of four overall, allowing at least four goals in each defeat. They haven't lost four straight at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 20-March 3, 2011.

''We should be the ones dictating everything,'' defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. ''Especially home games, it's been too easy for teams coming in here. (We need to) come out with a lot of fire and get some hits, some blocked shots and get the crowd into it.

''They really had nothing to stand up for, and it's something we're ashamed of. It's something we take some pride in here and try (to) correct.''

The players gathered sans coaches and media for roughly 15 minutes Sunday hoping to spark a turnaround.

''It's not going to come from anyone else except from the 22 guys in here,'' center Derek Stepan said. ''It doesn't matter if you were playing well, playing bad. It doesn't matter. We have to start playing as a group.

''We need to grasp it here, need to play with some desperation. That's the biggest key right now."

McDonagh and Stepan scored in New York's 2-0 win over Nashville on Nov. 23, and the Rangers will look to sweep the season series with a Predators team having trouble finding the back of the net.

Nashville (13-14-3) has totaled seven goals during its five-game skid, and it allowed the first three in Saturday's 5-2 loss to Washington. Roman Josi and Eric Nystrom scored, while rookie Marek Mazanec made 28 saves.

''We couldn't find a way to score,'' said defenseman Shea Weber, who played for the first time since being hit with a puck Nov. 28. ''Same story, we've just got to find a way to put it in.''

Coach Barry Trotz is doing his best to help his team focus on the task at hand.

"It's making it very difficult," Trotz said. "You can't just look at the big picture, better to just look at the next game. Win the next game and you've got to work at it a game at a time. ... We just don't have the finish we need right now."

After Cam Talbot made 17 saves to earn the shutout in the first meeting, the Predators likely will have to contend with Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers.

Lundqvist who signed a seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension Wednesday, is just 2-3-1 with a 3.19 goals-against average over his last six starts. He's 4-2-0 with a 1.50 GAA in six career outings against Nashville, which could counter with Mazanec.

Mazanec, who made 32 saves in the first meeting, is 0-4-1 with a 3.42 GAA in his last five starts.

The Rangers have won the last three meetings with the Predators, including the past two via shutout.

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