Lightning-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Rangers are trying to regroup from a seemingly controversial decision.

Production from an anemic power play would surely go a long way in helping them get back on track.

The Eastern Conference-leading Rangers will try to show some improvement with the man advantage when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

New York (33-13-5) fell 1-0 to New Jersey on Tuesday but seemed headed for overtime after Artem Anisimov appeared to score with 3.5 seconds left in regulation. The goal was waived off as officials deemed Marian Gaborik interfered with Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur and wasn't pushed by Anton Volchenkov.

While the call may have played a part in the Rangers losing for the second time in six games (4-1-1), the power play seems to be more of a concern. The unit, which went 0 for 3 against the Devils, is 4 for 65 in 24 games while failing to score on 17 power plays over the past five.

New York's 13.1 percent conversion rate ranks toward the bottom of the NHL.

Fortunately for the Rangers, their penalty-killing unit is among the best in the league at 87.1 percent, but New Jersey scored on the power play Tuesday.

"Our penalty killing has been washing out our power play, as far as our struggles," coach John Tortorella said. "It's beginning to show signs, but certainly not good enough."

Increased production from Brad Richards, third on the team with 16 goals and 34 points, could get the power play going. The star center has one goal and two assists over the last 12 games, and the same output over the same span at MSG.

"I'm a little lost offensively, obviously," Richards said. "Defensive game is the way they want to play here, and I'm adapting to that. I've gotta free myself up offensively for sure."

Richards has two goals and six assists in five career meetings with the Lightning (23-24-5), including one goal and two assists in two games this season.

Ryan Callahan is also dealing with some offensive issues, failing to get a point for four games after collecting four in the previous two. The captain has two points against Tampa Bay this season, netting a power-play goal in a 3-2 shootout defeat at home Dec. 8.

New York has dropped three in a row when hosting the Lightning.

A victory for the Lightning would mean their longest winning streak at the Garden since a four-game run bridging the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.

They're hoping another trip to New York can help them re-establish some modest success on the road in the opener of a three-game trip. They fell 3-1 at home to Los Angeles on Tuesday after a 6-0-1 stretch that included back-to-back road wins Jan. 20-21.

Tampa Bay hasn't won three in a row as the visitor since March 26-April 3, and its 8-16-3 road record is among the worst in the NHL.

That's partly why the Lightning are 10 points behind Ottawa for the eighth and final playoff position in the East after reaching the conference finals last season.

"For us, it's about what we do and not the teams in front of us," coach Guy Boucher told the team's official website. "It's not about the standings. We really don't care about that, and when we do that we have a tendency to do very well."

Steven Stamkos, who scored his league-leading 35th goal Tuesday, has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. The All-Star center has also found the net four times over the last six road games, but he has just four goals in 14 meetings with the Rangers.

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