The New York Rangers may be struggling to close out games, but they're finding ways to earn victories. The Florida Panthers haven't done much winning over the last two weeks.
New York looks to sweep a home-and-home series with Florida when the teams meet on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers (17-7-2) have won three straight and six of eight, with four of those victories coming in shootouts. They completed a sweep in Florida on Friday night with their second consecutive shootout win, 4-3 over the Panthers (8-11-3).
On Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the Rangers with 50 seconds left in the third period, but Henrik Lundqvist turned aside two shootout attempts in a 3-2 victory. Florida's David Booth tied Friday's game at 3 with 1:33 remaining in the third, and after allowing Rostislav Olesz's goal in the tiebreaker, Lundqvist stopped the final two attempts to improve to 5-1 in shootouts this season.
"You find ways to win and this team has been able to do that this year," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "As much as nobody wants to give us a lot of credit for that, I will."
Panthers coach Peter DeBoer gave his team credit for not giving up after falling behind 2-0 just 2:39 into the game on goals by New York's Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.
"That's about as hard as we can play," DeBoer said. "If you looked at the lineups on paper we probably didn't have any business being on the ice with them. Our guys, through guts and will, found a way to compete tonight."
Craig Anderson stopped 43 shots, and Radek Dvorak and Jay Bouwmeester scored for Florida, which lost for the fifth time in seven games (2-3-2).
"A point is better than no point but we can't settle for making one play every night, we have to make two," Booth said.
Zherdev scored his eighth goal of the season for the Rangers, who acquired him and Fritsche from the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 2. Zherdev leads New York with 23 points and has at least one in four straight games, registering a goal and six assists.
"I think you can see that he is playing with confidence and he's not afraid to make moves out there," Markus Naslund, who leads the Rangers with nine goals, told the team's official Web site. "It's working for him, which is fun to see."
The Rangers have dominated the Panthers in New York this decade, outscoring them 51-24 to win 11 of 14 meetings at MSG since the start of 2000-01. This season, New York has an Eastern Conference-high 10 home wins while Florida is just 3-8-1 on the road.
While no team in the East has more points than the Rangers, no team in the conference has fewer than the Panthers.
Lundqvist, though, isn't taking them lightly.
"They're a really good team, and they work really hard," he said.