TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The Rangers have spent years looking for a goaltender to replace franchise wins-leader Mike Richter. Rookie Henrik Lundqvist may be the one New York has been looking for.
Lundqvist may get the chance to extend his unbeaten string to four games when the Rangers continue their four-game homestand Monday night against the Florida Panthers.
Richter had 301 wins in a 14-year career with the Blueshirts before concussions forced him to retire in appearing in just 13 games during the 2002-03 season. Since then, New York has had several netminders including Mike Dunham, Dan Blackburn, Jussi Markannen, Jamie McLennan and Kevin Weekes.
Lundqvist, a seventh-round pick in the 2000 draft may be the answer. He made 28 saves en route to his second straight win in New York's 5-1 victory Saturday over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Regardless of Lundqvist's solid play, Rangers coach Tom Renney said Weekes, who is nursing a strained groin, will be the starter when he returns.
"You always want to be the No. 1 goalie," Lundqvist said. "But there are so many games and it goes up and down so many times."
Weekes is 3-3-1 in his career against the Panthers, who drafted him in 1993.
New York has scored 12 of its 21 goals this season at home.
Florida comes into this contest after a 3-2 victory Saturday over the Buffalo Sabres. Olli Jokinen scored twice including the game-winner with 67 seconds to play.
"It was good that we came back from (Thursday's 5-2 loss at Boston)," said Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 32 saves against the Sabres. "I feel we're back on track again."
Florida has alternated wins and losses in its last four games after starting the season with consecutive shutouts. The Panthers have allowed two goals or fewer in four of their five games this season.
Luongo has struggled in his career against the Rangers, going 4-8-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average. He is only 2-5 with a 3.02 GAA in Madison Square Garden.
STANDINGS: Panthers - 8 points, 1st place (tied), Southeast Division. Rangers - 8 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Nathan Horton, 3 goals; Mike Van Ryn, 5 assists; Jokinen and Van Ryn, 5 points; Branislav Mezei, 21 PIM. Rangers - Jaromir Jagr and Martin Rucinsky, 4 goals; Martin Straka, 7 assists; Jagr, 8 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 16 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 15): Panthers - Power play: 8.7 percent (4 for 46), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 89.2 percent (33 for 37), 7th. Rangers - Power play: 20.5 percent (8 for 39), 6th. Penalty killing: 90.2 percent (37 for 41), 4th.
GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (4-2-0, 2 SO, 1.49 GAA); McLennan (0-0-0, 1.82). Rangers - Weekes (1-1-1, 3.31); Lundqvist (2-0-1, 1.64).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0-1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 13, 2004; Panthers, 3-2, OT. At Sunrise, Fla., Jokinen scored in overtime for the second straight game, and Luongo made 37 saves.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 1-1-0 on the road; Rangers - 2-0-1 at home.