(AP) — The New York Rangers find themselves mired in a season-worst funk. Things aren’t about to get any easier without captain Chris Drury.
After learning that Drury will be sidelined up to six weeks with a left knee injury, the Rangers will look to avoid losing a sixth consecutive game for the first time in more than four years when they finish a three-game road trip against the stumbling Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night.
Drury was held out for the second consecutive game in a 3-2 loss Monday night at Detroit with pain in his left knee, and it was determined Wednesday that surgery would be required.
“They’re going to go in, scrape his knee, take a look at it,” coach John Tortorella told the Rangers’ official website. “They really haven’t pinpointed anything. That guy has played hard for a long time and I just think it’s worn on him. It certainly has not been getting better.”
New York (29-23-4) trailed 1-0 after two periods Monday, and despite outshooting the Red Wings 18-5 in the third, lost by one goal for the fourth time during its five-game skid.
The Rangers were last defeated in six straight during a seven-game losing streak Dec. 16-29, 2006.
“This is our first major bump in the road. We’ve got to just stick with it,” Tortorella said.
Marian Gaborik, third on the team with 16 goals, hasn’t found the net in the last five games, but he has tallied eight goals in his last 10 meetings with Atlanta.
New York’s Martin Biron has started back-to-back games for the first time in more than two months, but he dropped to 8-6-0 after stopping 32 of 35 shots Monday.
Henrik Lundqvist, who is 7-3-6 with a 2.15 goals-against average versus the Thrashers, could be back in goal Friday. He made 20 saves in a 3-2 shootout win Jan. 22 in Atlanta.
Despite their recent slide, the Rangers remain in seventh place of the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of the ninth-place Thrashers.
Atlanta (24-22-10) has also struggled lately, matching its longest losing streak of the season with a fourth straight defeat Monday despite taking a 2-0 lead into the second period at Toronto.
Ondrej Pavelec continued his recent slump and allowed five goals over the next 40 minutes as the Thrashers lost 5-4, falling to 2-7-4 in their last 13 games.
Pavelec is 0-3-1 with a 4.01 GAA in four starts this month.
“It’s getting to the point where you have to win,” coach Craig Ramsay said. “We made a very large point of that (Monday) – that it wasn’t about playing well, it was about winning.”
The Thrashers could be getting some help, as defenseman Tobias Enstrom – who leads the team with 33 assists – practiced for the second straight day Thursday after missing six contests with a fractured finger.
Enstrom’s franchise record of 296 consecutive games played came to an end the day after he was hit by a shot in the Jan. 22 loss to New York.
That dropped Atlanta to 6-1-1 in its last eight meetings with the Rangers. Five of those games have gone to shootouts.
Updated February 11, 2011
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