Winning consecutive games for the first time in more than a month should be a good boost for the New York Rangers heading into a tough two-week stretch. A matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning might also help.
The Rangers will try to continue their success against the Lightning on Friday night when the teams meet at the St. Pete Times Forum.
New York (13-10-1) opened its three-game road trip Wednesday by beating Florida 2-1 in a shootout as Henrik Lundqvist(notes) made all three stops in the tiebreaker while right wing P.A. Parenteau(notes) netted the winner. The victory came two nights after the Rangers scored seven goals in row during a span of just over 21 minutes to beat Columbus 7-4.
They hadn’t won consecutive games since a season-high seven-game winning streak from Oct. 3-17, sputtering to a 4-9-1 mark before rallying to beat the Blue Jackets.
“We’ll take it, It’s been a battle the last couple of weeks,” Lundqvist said Wednesday after making 25 saves.
Lundqvist had given up at least three goals in five of his previous six starts.
New York concludes this trip at Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh on Saturday before hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion two nights later. That home-and-home set begins a stretch of six games in two weeks that will pit the Rangers against some of the NHL’s top teams, including a visit to Central Division-leading Chicago on Dec. 9, three nights after hosting reigning Western Conference champ Detroit.
The Rangers may have a good chance to enter that stretch on a positive note. They won all four meetings with Tampa Bay (9-6-7) last season and have taken seven of the last nine, including three of four on the road.
Lundqvist has been a big part of that success, going 7-2-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average and a shutout in his last nine games against the Lightning.
Plus, Tampa has lost three of four overall and is coming off its first regulation loss at home, 4-3 to Toronto on Wednesday following a four-game road swing.
“Coming back from the road trip I knew it was going to be a grind for us,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “I think a couple guys looked tired, but we hung in there. We weren’t mentally sharp.”
His defense will have to stay sharp when Marian Gaborik(notes) is on the ice. The Rangers right wing is looking to set a career-high nine-game point streak after netting his league-leading 19th goal Wednesday. Gaborik has eight goals and six assists in the last eight games.
The two-time All-Star has been held without a point in only two games this season - his first in New York after eight injury-plagued seasons with Minnesota.
Gaborik has six goals in six games against the Lightning.
Steve Stamkos has been hot for Tampa Bay with three goals and six assists over the last seven games. The second-year center is tied with left wing Ryan Malone(notes) with a team-high 15 goals while ranking first with 26 points.
Stamkos is pointless in four games against the Rangers.