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Miller, Rangers host Lightning at MSG

11:11 AM, Feb 10, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Rookie J.T. Miller will try to live up to his stellar Madison Square Garden debut when the New York Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

Miller, a 2011 first-round pick playing in just his second NHL game, scored his first two career goals on Thursday to help the Rangers defeat the visiting New York Islanders by a 4-1 count. The victory came two days after Miller made his NHL debut in a 3-1 road loss to the New Jersey Devils.

"Obviously it was nice for me, but even better we got the win on home ice and a big bounce-back from last game," said Miller.

The 19-year-old American opened the scoring just 1:29 into Thursday's game after turning a giveaway from Islanders defenseman Mark Streit into his first NHL tally. Miller scored again with 1:49 left in the second period to give the Rangers a 3-1 edge.

Miller's second goal was only the fourth in 37 power-play chances for the Rangers, who are ranked 28th in the league with the man advantage.

"Obviously [for] a young kid like that to come in -- and not only his goals," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of Miller. "I think he plays so mature out there, making good decisions with the puck, It's important. It definitely brings some energy to the group."

Marian Gaborik and Ryan McDonagh added goals to back a 27-save effort from Lundqvist. McDonagh also notched an assist and Marc Staal contributed two helpers to the win.

The Rangers have won two of three and four of their last six games, but are still a point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York faced the Lightning on Feb. 2 in Tampa and posted a 3-2 regulation win. The teams have split the last 12 encounters in this series, but Tampa Bay has dropped four of its last seven games at MSG.

The Rangers are 4-2-0 as the host this season and have won four of their last five on home ice since losing to Pittsburgh on Jan. 20.

New York's captain Ryan Callahan returned to action Thursday following a three-game absence caused by a shoulder subluxation in a Jan. 29 matchup against Philadelphia. Defenseman Dan Girardi has sat out the last two games due to a lower body injury, but he could return Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Lightning received an unexpected day off Saturday, as their scheduled contest in Boston was postponed due to a blizzard that crippled the New England area. On Friday, the start time of the game was pushed back from 1 p.m. (ET) to 7 p.m., but that still wasn't enough time to outlast the effects of the storm.

In a statement, the NHL said even though both teams and the on-ice officials were in Boston the game still was postponed because "travel conditions remain too hazardous for fans, security personnel and TD Garden staff to get to the arena."

A makeup date has yet to be announced.

Instead of trying to end a three-game losing streak in Boston, the Lightning will attempt to halt the skid in New York instead. Tampa's slide began with the Feb. 2 home loss to the Rangers and the club then went on to lose games in Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Tampa Bay is 1-3-0 on the road this season.

The Sports Network

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