NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Success after regulation is helping the New York Rangers cope with a rash of injuries. Facing the sputtering Florida Panthers may also provide some relief heading into the All-Star break.
The Rangers look to make things easier on themselves when they face the Panthers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
New York (29-19-3) is thriving in games that go beyond regulation, winning eight of 11 while taking five of six via the shootout.
The Rangers have needed the tiebreaker to win consecutive away games, following Saturday’s 3-2 win at Atlanta with a 2-1 victory over Washington on Monday. They’re tied with Philadelphia with a league-high 17 road victories.
Coach John Tortorella is pleased his team is accumulating points in close games, while dealing with an injured list that has grown to eight players, including top scorer Brandon Dubinsky.
“It’s going to be like this for the next 2 1/2 months,” Tortorella said. “We’re happy we’re grabbing some points here.”
New York has started to do that at home, winning six of nine after dropping nine of its first 15.
Henrik Lundqvist has been a big part of the home surge, going 5-1-1 with a 1.12 goals-against average and three shutouts. He’s blanked Vancouver and Toronto in each of his last two starts at MSG, and is tied with Boston’s Tim Thomas with a league-leading seven shutouts.
Lundqvist turned in a 40-save performance in a 3-0 win at Florida (21-21-5) on Nov. 26, extending his winning streak over the Panthers to four with a 0.73 GAA.
He should get a chance to extend that streak after being rested Monday in favor of Martin Biron, who made six of his 22 saves in overtime before stopping two of four shootout attempts.
Both goaltenders have come up big in the tiebreaker, combining to stop 22 of 27 attempts.
Rookie Mats Zuccarello has been a force in the shootout, converting all four of his chances after scoring on both attempts in each of the last two games.
New York failed to find the net at all in a 3-0 loss at Florida on Jan. 2. Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves for his fifth shutout, but is 1-2-2 with a 3.03 GAA since.
He’s dropped three of his last four starts at MSG behind a 4.01 GAA, and it’s unclear if he’ll be in net after an upper-body injury sidelined him for Sunday’s 5-2 loss at New Jersey. Backup Scott Clemmensen was pulled following the first period after allowing two goals on six shots, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 12 of 14 shots the rest of the way in his NHL debut.
Clemmensen has lost his last two games against the Rangers, giving up three goals in each.
The Panthers are looking to snap a season-high four-game skid that includes three determined after regulation. They haven’t endured a longer streak since a seven-game slide Feb. 1-March 2.
Stephen Weiss leads the team with 33 points, but has none in three games while also missing two shootout attempts. The center has no goals in the last nine games, and has one with three assists over his four most recent visits to the Garden.
Florida has dropped the last three that have reached the shootout while converting 1 of 9 chances. Two of the Panthers’ shootout defeats have come during this losing streak.
Will the Rangers continue their MSG surge? Make your prediction in the comments below…
© 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.