In pursuit of one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the surging New York Rangers are showing they could be a dangerous team in the postseason.
New York tries to sweep the Boston Bruins for the second straight season Saturday when the teams meet at TD Banknorth Garden.
The Rangers (37-28-9) have won seven straight over the Bruins, the longest winning streak ever by New York over Boston (34-34-5). Prior to last season, the only other time the Rangers swept a season series from their Original Six rival came in 1989-90, when they won all three meetings.
The Rangers took three of the four matchups last season by one goal, but the games haven't been nearly as close this season. New York has outscored the Bruins 16-2 and recorded its most lopsided win in the series since an 8-1 victory on Jan. 24, 1970, with a 7-0 win last Saturday.
That victory started an impressive three-game run for the Rangers in which they are outscoring opponents 14-1. New York, which has not won four straight since Dec. 30-Jan. 6, is 8-1-3 since Feb. 27 to move closer to a playoff berth.
The Rangers are in seventh place in the East with 83 points, but are hardly assured of making the playoffs. They trail sixth-place Tampa Bay by three points, while Carolina, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Toronto are all right behind them.
"I think our game has turned the corner as much as anything," coach Tom Renney said after a 5-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday. "Our circumstance has provided proper motivation to get the job done wherever we are. That circumstance being the playoff race and having to work hard wherever we are to get in it."
New York set the tone early against the Flyers with Colton Orr's knockout punch of Todd Fedoruk just 21 seconds into the game, and Henrik Lundqvist made 17 saves to register his second shutout in three contests.
Lundqvist stopped 30 shots in last Saturday's win over Boston and is 6-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average and one shutout against the Bruins in his career. He has started the last nine games for the Rangers, going 6-1-2 with a 1.31 GAA.
Sean Avery scored two goals against the Flyers and has a goal and six assists in his last two games against the Bruins. Brendan Shanahan assisted on both of Avery's goals Wednesday in his first game back from a concussion suffered on Feb. 17.
"I wanted it to just be about the team and getting a win and keeping the focus," said Shanahan, who still leads the Rangers with 28 goals despite missing 15 games.
Boston fell 6-3 to Montreal on Thursday, but finally managed to get on the scoreboard. Phil Kessel's goal 2:09 into the game snapped a drought of 143 seconds, 25 minutes for the Bruins, who had been shut out the previous two games by the Rangers and Canadiens.
Boston allowed five unanswered goals in the last 22 minutes, though, to lose its third straight and sixth in its last eight.
"It's hard to have fun when you are losing," said Tim Thomas, who is 0-4-2 with a 3.81 GAA in his career against New York.
The Bruins are just 4-8-1 at home since Jan. 20.