Rangers-Lightning Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The New York Rangers have gotten back on track by returning to the road, where they've played their best hockey this season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been dominant on home ice, and they'll need that to continue if they want to get back on track following a rough trip.

The Rangers seek a seventh straight road victory when they take on the offensively challenged Lightning, who will try for a sixth consecutive win at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Monday night.

New York (12-11-0) had dropped three of four heading into a five-game trip that started Thursday, but it's taken the first two in the stretch, beating Dallas before defeating Nashville 2-0 on Saturday.

Backup Cam Talbot made 17 saves for his second consecutive shutout and Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, who have given up eight goals during their six-game run on the road.

New York has not won seven consecutive road games since Oct. 28-Nov. 29, 1978.

"It was a good road win and we move on from here," Stepan said.

The Rangers managed four goals during the preceding 1-3-0 stretch and were challenged by coach Alain Vigneault to take better advantage of offensive opportunities provided by opponents.

''Our guys were focused and ready right from the start, and they executed really well,'' Vigneault said. ''They managed the puck well and obviously we didn't give Nashville a whole lot as far as scoring opportunities.

''We were able to generate quite a few and score two goals.''

That wasn't the case for Tampa Bay on its just-completed trip, as the Lightning (14-8-1) scored six times in going 0-3-1 against the top four teams in the Pacific Division standings.

The stretch ended in especially frustrating fashion, with Tampa Bay losing 1-0 in overtime to Anaheim on Friday on Ryan Getzlaf's goal with 5.2 seconds left in the extra period.

''Getting one point is better than getting none,'' said coach Jon Cooper, whose team lost 5-1 to San Jose the previous night. ''A lot of good things happened tonight. We played extremely hard. It's a game of bounces, and they got the bounce at the end with 5 seconds left.'

The Lightning lost leading scorer Steven Stamkos to a broken leg Nov. 11, and his absence seemed pronounced on the road trip after Tampa Bay won its first two games without him.

The Lightning have played like a different team at home, outscoring opponents 22-12 during their five straight wins there and going 8-2-0 on the season. They've scored 41 goals in those 10 games, compared to 26 in 13 road contests.

Valtteri Filppula has scored seven of his nine goals at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and has four and five assists during a five-game point streak there.

Stamkos scored twice in the most recent home matchup with New York, a 3-2 loss Feb. 2, and the Rangers won the next two meetings at Madison Square Garden later that month to give them a three-game winning streak in the series.

Carl Hagelin has four goals and two assists during a three-game point streak against Tampa Bay, while Ryan Callahan has three goals and two assists in recording at least a point in five straight in the series.

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