TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The New York Rangers are nearing the end of yet another disastrous season. But Jaromir Jagr continues to provide a bright spot.
Jagr hopes to keep giving the Rangers some hope for the future as they welcome the Florida Panthers to Madison Square Garden.
The 32-year-old right wing, one of the few high-priced veterans not dealt away by the Rangers prior to the trade deadline, has been re-energized since joining the Rangers on Jan. 23. In his last 16 games, the five-time Art Ross trophy winner has 10 goals and 11 assists.
In the Rangers' 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Jagr recorded his 41st assist of the season, extending his points streak to five games (two goals, four assists.) Rangers captain Mark Messier also had an assist in the loss, giving him two goals and eight points in his last six games.
The Panthers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Roberto Luongo stopped 32 shots, and Olli Jokinen scored his second goal of the game 1:19 into overtime.
"He gives us a great chance to win every single night," Jokinen said of Luongo. "I think last week he was a little bit tired and he had a couple of bad games, but he got a night off against the Maple Leafs (on Tuesday) and we wanted to make sure he was ready to play tonight. He's been outstanding all year."
Sitting in 10th place in the conference, the Panthers trail the eight-place New York Islanders by nine points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 62 points, 4th place, 29 PB, Atlantic Division. Panthers - 67 points, 2nd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 27 goals, 41 assists and 68 points; Dale Purinton, 113 PIM. Panthers - Jokinen, 21 goals, 24 assists and 45 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 147 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 11): Rangers - Power play: 14.2 percent (40 for 281), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (274 for 339), 28th. Panthers - Power play: 15.6 percent (41 for 262), 20th. Penalty killing: 86.1 percent (272 for 316), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Mike Dunham (16-25-6, 2, 2.95); Jamie McLennan (12-9-3, 4 SO, 2.20 GAA). Panthers - Luongo (22-28-13, 7, 2.30); Steve Shields (3-4-1, 0, 3.42).
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 26; Rangers, 5-2. At New York, Jagr had a three-point night in his home debut for New York, setting up Brian Leetch's tiebreaking score and adding a third-period tally and assist.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 12-17-4-1 on the road; Panthers - 13-12-6-2 at home.