At the start of the season, the New York Rangers couldn't do anything right on the road. These days, they do little wrong.
The Rangers try to notch their sixth consecutive road victory Friday when they visit the Florida Panthers to cap off a grueling stretch of games.
New York (13-8-1) went 0-5-1 in its first six games outside Madison Square Garden this season, getting shut out three times and outscored 14-6 in those games.
But coach Tom Renney's team has since reeled off five straight road wins, the team's longest string of success on the road since a six-game run from Jan. 19-March 2, 2006. It has been part of an overall impressive surge that has seen the Rangers win 10 of 12 overall en route to the Atlantic Division lead.
The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 victory at Tampa on Wednesday as Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 32 shots for his 12th victory.
"It means a lot because we didn't start off too well on the road," said Rangers enforcer Colton Orr, who scored his first goal of the season on Wednesday. "So to get confidence on the road and know that we're going to play well, it means a lot."
Lundqvist, who came within 16.7 seconds of a shutout, is 5-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average lifetime against the Panthers, whom he beat Oct. 4 by making 29 saves as the Rangers scored four third-period goals in a 5-2 victory.
"It's always tough to lose a shutout like that, when it's close and it felt like I had a good shutout going here," said Lundqvist, who trails only Ottawa's Martin Gerber for the league lead in wins.
New York has won 17 of its last 25 against Florida.
The Panthers (10-12-1) have won three of their last four, including a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Rostislav Olesz had two goals, including the go-ahead score with 9:07 to play.
Jay Bouwmeester also scored in the final period and Olesz added his second score just over a minute after Bouwmeester tallied. The Panthers, who defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Monday, have scored 12 goals in their last four games after being limited to seven during a four-game losing streak.
"We talked about it before the game and during the break, to try and get more traffic," said Olesz, who played his second straight game after missing 14 with a wrist injury.
Florida scored three times on the power play Wednesday after converting just one of its previous 15 chances. The first two goals of the third period came with the man advantage after Columbus tied the game late in the second period.
Tomas Vokoun evened his record at 10-10-0 in his first season with the Panthers in Wednesday's victory. Vokoun, acquired in a draft-day trade from Nashville, has a 2.90 goals-against average this season and is 5-2-0 with a 2.11 GAA and one shutout lifetime versus the Rangers.