The New York Rangers have battled back after an alarming start to the season with 10 wins in their last 12 games and look to keep rising in the Eastern Conference when they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The Rangers defeated Detroit 2-1 in overtime on Friday before edging Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout two days later to extend their winning streak to four games.
“We have to feel good about what we’ve been doing here the past four weeks,” New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told reporters. “Our record is really good, but this league is so competitive. … You have to earn it every night and prepare a certain way and put in the effort all the time to get points.” The Rangers have limited opponents to two or fewer goals in seven of the last 12 games during their run and hope to clamp down on the Panthers, who are coming off an inspiring 3-2 win at New Jersey on Monday. Jared McCann registered the winning goal for Florida, which outshot the Devils 38-25 after finding out earlier in the day that Evgenii Dadonov was lost for four-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury. “We haven’t played the way we wanted to from the start of the season until right now,” Panthers center Vincent Trocheck told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s games like (Monday) that prove the type of team we do have.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TVA, FSN Florida, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (9-12-2): Aleksander Barkov scored his seventh goal Monday to tie Jonathan Huberdeau for second on the team with 22 points - one behind Trocheck after the 24-year-old netted his team-leading 10th tally. Mike Matheson recorded a pair of assists against New Jersey after going five games without a point while fellow defenseman Alex Petrovic rejoined the lineup after sitting out eight contests as a scratch, replacing Ian McCoshen. Denis Malgin was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Monday and took Dadonov’s spot on a line with Barkov and Huberdeau.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (13-9-2): New York’s offense has produced 14 goals during its winning streak, but the power play has not played much of a role as the team is 1-for-15 over its last six games. Mika Zibanejad tops the team in tallies (11) and points (22) while Mats Zuccarello is next with 19 points after scoring one goal and setting up four others over his last four contests. Captain Ryan McDonough (abdomen) has missed the last three games, and his status for Tuesday is uncertain while fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk snapped a seven-game pointless streak Sunday with an assist.
1. Florida LW Dryden Hunt notched an assist on McCann’s winning goal Monday for his first NHL point.
2. New York C Boo Nieves missed Sunday’s game due to a hip pointer but participated in the pregame warmup.
3. The Rangers are 3-0-2 in their last five meetings with the Panthers after posting a 5-4 overtime win in Florida on Nov. 4.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Panthers 3