The New York Rangers know they can’t afford to let many points slip away in their quest to reach the postseason.
The Rangers will look to extend a season-high seven-game point streak Tuesday when they host the Ottawa Senators.
New York (34-27-8) beat Carolina 2-1 in a shootout on Sunday, improving to 5-0-2 with three shootout wins, a shootout loss and an overtime defeat in its last seven games. The victory moved the Rangers into a tie with the Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York has a game in hand on the defending Stanley Cup champions, and also holds the tiebreaker against Carolina after winning three of four matchups in the season series. The Rangers are also 3-0-1 in their last four games overall, all of them against teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It is a playoff game for us,” said Jaromir Jagr, who had an assist in regulation Sunday and scored in the shootout. “No one gives us credit that we are going to make the playoffs. We knew it was huge. We knew it was going to be a big weekend.”
Jagr was questionable for the Carolina game after sitting out the third period and overtime of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, and spent more time than usual on the bench against the Hurricanes.
“I’m hoping that we have him right through to whenever our season ends,” coach Tom Renney told the Rangers’ official Web site. “We communicate on it; as to has he’s feeling. I just hope he holds up. It’s not like I can rest him.”
Marek Malik scored his first goal since Feb. 8, 2006 for the Rangers, who continued to struggle on the power play. New York went 0-for-5 with the man advantage for the second straight game and has just two goals in its last 25 power-play chances.
However, goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has played in 32 of 33 games, stopped 30 shots. He has not allowed more than three goals in any of his last 15 appearances and has given up two or fewer goals 11 times over that span.
The Rangers have struggled in recent years against the Senators, going 3-11-1 in the last 15 meetings.
Ottawa (39-23-7) is in fourth place in the East - nine points ahead of New York - but is currently slumping, with four losses in the last five games while allowing at least four goals in each of those defeats
Heatley’s goal extended his point streak to 14 games. He has 11 goals and 10 assists over that span, increasing his team-leading season totals to 42 goals and 88 points.
Heatley scored an empty-net goal in the last meeting between these teams, a 6-4 Senators victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. He added two assists, and Patrick Eaves had two goals and an assist in that contest.