New York Rangers center Martin Straka insists he isn't doing anything different during one of the best seasons of his career.
Straka looks to build on his sixth career hat trick Saturday when the Rangers (21-17-4) visit the stumbling Montreal Canadiens (23-12-5).
Straka scored a goal in each period of the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. The hat trick was his first since March 29 against the New York Islanders.
"Night in and night out, he is a clear example of the work ethics that we want," coach Tom Renney said. "He's a genuine, sincere guy, soft-spoken, humble man who comes to work. He works awfully hard. He should be proud of himself. He really does epitomize a lot of what we want to be here."
Straka reached the 20-goal mark for the sixth time and has 21, one shy of his total of last season. He's on pace to break his career high of 35 goals set in 1998-99 with Pittsburgh.
"I have said many times, sometimes you play the same way the whole year and the puck goes in, and sometimes it doesn't," he said. "When you have the confidence, you have a little bit more luck. That's the difference I guess. I don't think I am playing any different than I did last year."
The Rangers have rebounded well from a season-high seven-game losing streak, winning three straight. The prolonged slide came on the heels of a season-best five-game win streak.
Henrik Lundqvist started his sixth straight game Thursday and stopped 22 shots. He has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last five appearances.
"I think for 60 minutes, the last three games, we have played solid," said center Michael Nylander, who had an assist Thursday.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, have dropped four of their last six games, including Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. Craig Rivet scored the lone goal for Montreal, which has just five total goals in its last four losses.
"There really was no reason, no excuse, why we weren't able to stay with it after we were in the game right at the beginning," defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We were soft. Not one or two guys - everybody."
Saku Koivu was charged with an interference penalty that negated a Montreal goal that would have tied the game at 2. He went scoreless against the Capitals and remained one point shy of 500 for his career.
Goalie Cristobal Huet, who is 16-7-3 with a 2.45 goals-against average, allowed more than three goals for the first time in five appearances and was removed in the second period.
The Canadiens are 9-2-1 in their last 12 matchups with the Rangers. The teams are meeting for the first time this season.