Marian Gaborik(notes) did his best to try and extend the New York Rangers’ winning streak, but the team came up just short. If he can continue his success against the Florida Panthers, the Rangers may have the chance to start another one.
After beginning the new year with a tough loss, New York travels to Florida hoping to continue its push in the Atlantic Division.
Gaborik scored with 45.6 seconds left in regulation Saturday to tie the game, but the Rangers missed out on a third consecutive victory when they allowed Tampa Bay to score 19 seconds into overtime in a 2-1 loss.
The goal from Gaborik may have been nice consolation. The right wing, who matched a career high with 42 goals last season, entered the game with only two in his previous 10 contests.
“It’s important that he scored the goal, but we’re going to need more out of him,” coach John Tortorella said. “Hopefully, that will help with his confidence. He’s an important guy for us and we’re going to need him as this gets tougher in the second half of the year.”
New York (22-14-3) has still earned a point in seven of its last eight, going 5-1-2 in that stretch, but Tortorella is hoping for victories as the Rangers chase Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the division.
“Are we satisfied (with earning a point)? I hope we’re not,” the coach said. “It’s going to get tougher and tougher.”
Gaborik’s production in recent seasons against the Panthers may give the Rangers hope of extending their four-game point streak. Gaborik has scored a goal in four of his last five games against Florida, adding two assists during that time. His only scoreless game in that stretch was the Rangers’ 3-0 win Nov. 26.
The Panthers, meanwhile, blew a second-period lead for the second straight game Friday, giving up three unanswered goals and falling 3-2 in overtime against Montreal. Florida (16-17-2) has squandered a lead in three of its last four losses.
The latest defeat wasted another solid effort from Tomas Vokoun(notes), who made 45 saves for the second consecutive start. He’ll likely get the nod again Sunday and is 7-5-1 with one tie and a 2.41 GAA in 14 starts against the Rangers.
“We have to be a little smarter the way we manage the game when (we’re leading) 2-0. We say that over and over, we just got to do it,” Vokoun said.
The Rangers, though, are 13-6-1 on the road this season, and they’ve taken at least one point from 15 of their last 17 visits to south Florida, going 10-2-4 with a tie.