The New York Rangers used a late-season surge to lift themselves into the postseason in 2006-07. They hope history is in the process of repeating itself this year.
The Rangers will try to earn a point in their eighth straight game as they visit the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
|Recently acquired defenseman Christian Backman, left, expects to debut for the Rangers tonight against the Hurricanes. New York is 5-0-2 in their last seven games. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
New York (32-24-8) went 17-6-5 over its final 28 games last season to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers then swept Atlanta in the first round before falling in six games to Buffalo in the conference semifinals.
Heading into this game, New York is tied with Boston for sixth in the East, five points behind fifth-place Montreal. The surging Rangers are 5-0-2 in their last seven games, including Sunday's 5-0 win against Florida.
"Once you're winning, you feel confidence about your system, about your game," the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr said. "We had the same thing last year. We needed to win a lot of games at the end of the season to make the playoffs, and I think this year we realize it, too."
Jagr scored in his second straight game after not getting a goal in his previous 12. Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, stopped 23 shots and became the first Rangers goaltender with eight shutouts in one season since Eddie Giacomin in 1970-71.
Scott Gomez chipped in a goal and two assists for the Rangers, whose lineup has undergone some changes since the win. New York picked up right wing Fredrik Sjostrom, goaltender David LeNeveu and left wing Josh Gratton in a deadline deal Tuesday that sent left wing Marcel Hossa and minor league goaltender Al Montoya to Phoenix.
|Cam Ward aims to help the 'Canes keep up their recent success at home. Carolina is 7-0-1 in its last eight games in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
The Rangers also acquired defenseman Christian Backman from St. Louis for a fourth-round pick in this year's draft. Sjostrom and Backman are both expected to be in the lineup against the Hurricanes.
"It's a very exciting day, a very exhilarating day," New York coach Tom Renney told the Rangers' official Web site. "Most of the teams that did deals today will tell you that they feel great about what they did, and we're no different. I feel real good about what we accomplished today."
The Hurricanes (33-28-5) picked up center Tuomo Ruutu from Chicago at Tuesday's deadline for Andrew Ladd. Ruutu made it to the RBC Center minutes before a 2-1 overtime win over East-leading New Jersey.
Ruutu picked up an assist in his debut, but was cut by the stick of the Devils' Patrik Elias and is doubtful for this game. The Hurricanes' official Web site reported Ruutu needed 40 stitches to close cuts around his eye and nose.
Right wing Patrick Eaves, activated off injured reserve two weeks after he was acquired in a trade with Ottawa, also made his Carolina debut on a line with Matt Cullen and Sergei Samsonov.
Samsonov, who was acquired on waivers from Chicago on Jan. 8, scored both of Carolina's goals, including the game-winner with 3:24 left in overtime.
Samsonov scored in Carolina's 3-1 win over New York on Jan. 29, and has nine goals and nine assists in 22 games with the Hurricanes, who are looking for a season-high fourth straight win. Carolina is 7-0-1 in its last eight home games.