The New York Rangers haven’t had a whole lot of success away from home lately. But if there’s a place where they’ve been able to count on a road win in recent years, it’s Philadelphia.
New York looks to avoid extending its road losing streak to seven games while trying for its sixth straight win at the Wachovia Center when it faces the Flyers on Thursday.
It’s been six years since the Rangers lost seven in a row on the road. They went 0-6-1 from Dec. 31, 2001-Jan. 17, 2002.
The Rangers (24-22-6) enter this game not having won away from Madison Square Garden since beating Toronto 6-1 on Dec. 29. They’re 0-4-2 since and that win over the Maple Leafs was their lone victory in their last 11 road games (1-6-4).
But making the 100-mile trek to Philadelphia has been a boost to New York’s confidence lately. The Rangers have won five straight and nine of the past 10 on the Flyers’ home ice dating to March 27, 2004.
New York’s offense continued to sputter on Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss at Carolina, the first game of a four-game road trip. No team in the NHL has fewer goals than the Rangers’ 125, and they’ve scored just 14 in their last seven games.
“We need the points, we need the wins,” said center Scott Gomez, who had five shots against the Hurricanes. “I take responsibility … you have to put those in the net.”
Gomez has been one of the Rangers’ few consistent point producers with 11 goals and a team-high 37 assists.
Brendan Shanahan leads New York with 16 goals, but his one against Carolina was his first point in his last nine games. Shanahan has a pair of goals against the Flyers this season.
The Rangers have taken two of three meetings with Philadelphia (28-16-5) this season - both in November - while the Flyers won 6-2 at MSG on Jan. 10.
Since taking the loss in that contest, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has gone 4-3-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average, allowing one goal or fewer four times.
Philadelphia has been one of the NHL’s hottest teams over the past month. The Flyers have gone 12-2-1 since Dec. 27 and haven’t lost in regulation to a team other than New Jersey since Dec. 21.
The Flyers are third in the league in goals with 163, and haven’t scored fewer than three in a game since Jan. 4.
It looked like they might not hit that mark on Tuesday against Los Angeles, but Scott Hartnell kicked in a controversial goal in overtime to give Philadelphia a 3-2 win.
“The guy knocked me down, it hit my skate and went in,” Hartnell said. “It doesn’t matter how pretty they are.”
Aesthetically pleasing or not, Hartnell has been scoring plenty lately. He has 11 goals - five game-winners - and six assists in his past 10 games, including a pair of hat tricks, the first coming on Jan. 10 against New York.
Six of Hartnell’s goals have come on the Philadelphia power play, which at 25.1 percent is the league’s best. It’s been even better of late - the Flyers have scored at least once with the man advantage in 11 straight, going 19-for-55 (34.5 percent).
“There has been a lot of talk about our power play lately,” coach John Stevens said. “We have done a great job all year of moving the puck quickly and as soon as there is a lane to the net, we shoot the puck with traffic in front of the net.”