NEW YORK (AP) — Missing three of their top offensive contributors hasn’t deterred the New York Rangers’ search for an identity. They’re finding a winning one of late.
The Rangers go for their first four-game winning streak in 10 months when they face the struggling Atlanta Thrashers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
New York (4-2-1) has won three games in a row after dropping the previous three. The club hasn’t won four straight since Dec. 17-23, 2009, only one of two winning streaks that lasted more than three games last season.
The Rangers’ recent surge has been a bit of a surprise with right wing Marian Gaborik (shoulder), center Chris Drury (finger) and left wing Vinny Prospal (knee) all sidelined.
The trio combined for 76 of New York’s 219 goals last season.
The Rangers continued to adapt without their offensive leaders Sunday, beating New Jersey 3-1 with goals from three players. Seven players have scored the eight goals during their winning streak, with only center Artem Anisimov netting two.
“We have talked a lot about just trying to continue to create an identity of how we’re going to play. What are we as a team? Along the way, when you’re trying to build that, you get some wins and I think it’s an easier sell,” coach John Tortorella said. “You go through the momentums and there’ll be some down times, and you just got to try to grab a hold of it and remember what we are as a hockey club.
“We’re really concentrating on that as far as the things we need to do to create our identity.”
Henrik Lundqvist will likely be in net as he tries to continue his strong play. He made 27 saves – 11 in the third period – against the Devils after a 35-save effort in a 3-2 win at Boston on Saturday. Those performances came after he posted a 3.99 goals-against average in New York’s three losses.
Lundqvist, though, is 0-1-2 with a 2.23 GAA in the Rangers’ last three meetings with Atlanta (3-4-1) at MSG. He helped end New York’s five-game overall losing streak to the Thrashers with a 29-save performance March 12, while Gaborik, Drury and Prospal combined for eight points in a 5-2 win at Atlanta.
The Thrashers would like to re-establish their success in this series to end their three-game skid (0-2-1). They were happy gaining a point in the standings after losing 4-3 in overtime at Washington on Saturday. Evander Kane forced the extra session by scoring his second goal of the game with 32.9 seconds left in regulation.
“You have to get those wins,” Kane said, “but at the same time, that point could be huge down the road and into the playoffs. Every point you get means a lot.”
While Kane leads Atlanta with five goals, Andrew Ladd has been a pleasant surprise offensively.
Expected to be a strong defensive contributor, the left wing has a team-leading eight points while being held off the scoresheet just once in eight games.
Ladd, however, doesn’t have a point in five visits to MSG.
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