Success after regulation is helping the Rangers cope with a rash of injuries. Facing the sputtering Florida Panthers might 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 tonight.
The Blueshirts (29-19-3) are thriving in games that go beyond regulation, winning eight of 11 while taking five of six via the shootout.
|Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, who had the game-tying goal on Monday night at Washington, returns to The Garden tonight to play in his first game there since he erupted for four goals in the Blueshirts' 7-0 rout of Toronto last Wednesday night.|
They have used the shootout 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.
Rangers head 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 2½ months," Tortorella said. "We're happy we're grabbing some points here."
The Blueshirts have been doing that at home, too, winning six of the last nine games played at MSG.
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.
The Rangers fell to the Panthers 3-0 at Florida on Jan. 2, when Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves for his fifth shutout. Vokoun, however, is just 1-2-2 with a 3.03 GAA since that game.
Vokoun has 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.
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