The New York Rangers are heading the wrong way fast.
The slumping Rangers will look to reverse their fortunes when they play the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden.
New York has lost three straight and seven of eight to fall eight points behind the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 29 games to play.
Joel Bouchard scored New York’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Saturday, which gave the Sabres a home-and-home sweep.
“Slowly but surely, we’ve dug ourselves a big hole,” Rangers forward Bobby Holik said.
This is not what was expected from New York, which recently acquired Jaromir Jagr, and his hefty contract, from Washington.
Jagr has managed just a goal and two assists—all in a 5-2 win over Florida on Monday—in five games since joining the Rangers.
“I’m frustrated that I couldn’t help the team and score goals,” said Jagr, who had four shots on goal against Buffalo. “I love this team and I want us to succeed. … We need to get some breaks.”
The Rangers could use some breaks against the surging Canucks. New York has lost five straight to Vancouver, dating to Oct. 2, 1999.
The Canucks have won five in a row overall to move within one point of Colorado for the top spot in the Northwest Division and Western Conference.
Markus Naslund’s 29th goal of the season was the first of four straight power-play scores for the Canucks in a 6-1 victory over Washington on Saturday.
“We got contributions from a lot of guys scoring wise, and that’s good to see,” Naslund said. “It’s definitely very important to have the power play back on track.”
The Canucks struggled to score with the man-advantage to start the season, but they have gotten progressively better. After Saturday’s offensive explosion, Vancouver has moved up to 11th in the league on the power play.
That could spell bad news for the Rangers, whose penalty killing unit is 27th overall.