Having averted a third straight defeat in their last game, the New York Rangers look to start another winning streak when they face the sinking Tampa Bay Lightning - a team they've dominated this season.
The Rangers go for their fourth win in as many games over the Lightning in 2008-09 as the teams meet at the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday night.
New York (15-7-2) overcame an early deficit and rolled to a 4-1 home victory over Phoenix on Monday. Brandon Dubinsky scored his first goal in 14 games and Nikolai Zherdev had three assists for the Rangers, who had been dominated in two straight defeats after a three-game win streak.
"The effort was good, the intentions were good, the outcome was great," said coach Tom Renney, whose club was outscored a combined 10-4 in losses to Vancouver and Ottawa. "When you are trying to turn things around and get yourself back on track, you can't do it all in one shift. We wanted to, but that doesn't work."
The Rangers got back top center Scott Gomez after a five-game absence due to a leg injury and took advantage of a Coyotes club that has dropped six in a row. Henrik Lundqvist also returned to the net for the first time in five days, having been pulled for the first time this season in a 6-3 loss to Vancouver last Wednesday, and made 35 saves for his NHL-leading 13th win.
Gomez scored into an empty net with 27.9 seconds left.
"It's exciting to be back," Gomez said. "I probably provided a little comedy on the bench. All you want to do is be a part of it, and you hate it when you're not in the lineup."
The Rangers will look to continue putting the rough two-game stretch further behind them when they face the Lightning, who have endured a rough three-game stretch versus New York this season. They lost two of the matchups by one goal, and the Rangers won the most recent meeting 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 6 behind Chris Drury's hat trick.
New York, which won the one matchup of the season in Tampa 2-1 in the teams' Oct. 4 opener, has taken six of the last eight games.
The Lightning (6-8-6) continued to struggle in their last game, as New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus scored four goals to lead the Devils to a 7-3 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday. Tampa Bay, which fell to 1-1-2 under interim coach Rick Tocchet, is 2-5-3 in its last 10.
"Pretty bad effort," said Tocchet, whose team is completing a four-game homestand. "A dud."
Radim Vrbata, Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone scored for the Lightning, who had defeated Nashville 4-1 on Friday to end a five-game losing skid. Tampa Bay was outshot 45-29 by the Devils, and Tocchet pulled Olaf Kolzig with the score 5-0 midway through the second period.
"We take a huge step back," forward Martin St. Louis said. "It's really disappointing."
Tampa Bay announced Tuesday that Mike Sullivan, a Lightning associate coach last season, has returned to the team and will serve as associate coach to Tocchet. Sullivan coached the Boston Bruins in 2003-04 and 2005-06, leading them to the Northeast Division title in his first season with 104 points.
|M. St. Louis||21||5||11||16||+2||2||1||0|