For the first six weeks of the NHL season, the New York Rangers couldn't win away from home. All of a sudden, they can't lose on the road.
New York (11-7-1) looks for its fifth win in a row overall and fourth straight on the road Saturday night when it faces the Pittsburgh Penguins (8-10-1).
The Rangers were 0-5-1 on the road before last Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Toronto. They've since visited Atlantic Division rivals New Jersey and Philadelphia and won as well, with Thursday's 4-3 shootout victory ruining the Flyers' 6-0-0 start at home.
Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves and three more in the shootout against the Flyers. He's stopped eight of nine shots on goal in three shootout games.
"The big key to us in shootouts is (Henrik)," said Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan, who scored the lone shootout goal. "He puts you in a position where you're skating up the ice with the puck with a chance to win it as opposed to playing from behind."
Lundqvist has a 1.71 goals-against average and .935 save percentage to rank near the top of the league, and he has four shutouts in 18 games - one less than he had in 70 contests last season. The third-year goaltender has been the starter for all but one of the Rangers' games, and he has logged the most minutes in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers signed free agent centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to improve their middle-of-the-pack offense from last season. But New York is scoring just 2.21 goals per game as opposed to the 2.95 it averaged in 2006-07, putting even more pressure on Lundqvist.
The offense, though, has picked up lately. The Rangers scored five goals in their opening-night win over Florida on Oct. 4, then didn't score more than three until Nov. 8 against Pittsburgh - the start of their four-game winning streak. They've scored four goals three times during that stretch.
"It shows that we're doing something right," Shanahan said.
Pittsburgh ended a four-game slide Thursday night with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Unlike the Rangers, the Penguins have had trouble keeping the puck out of the net - their 58 goals allowed are among the most in the league.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien has been alternating between goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury (3.43 GAA in 12 starts) and Dany Sabourin (2.18 GAA in seven starts), but it was Fleury who was in net against the Islanders. He hadn't started a home game in nearly three weeks, but made 26 saves to get his first win since Oct. 23.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning," Fleury said. "I hadn't been playing in Pittsburgh for a while, so I was a little excited. But things went well, the guys got some goals, we got the lead, so that worked to relax me."
Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both extended impressive scoring streaks in the win. Malkin had two assists to extend his to 12 games and Crosby assisted on the winning goal to get a point for the 18th straight game. Mario Lemieux and current Ranger Jaromir Jagr never had concurrent point streaks of more than 11 games when they played together in Pittsburgh.
"We want to contribute and it's always nice to win, so if you can do that and win, it's great," Crosby said. "But for us, we have a job to produce."
Crosby has 22 points in 17 career games against the Rangers. Jagr has 30 points - 15 goals and 15 assists - in 30 games against his former team.
These teams have met twice in 2007-08, with each winning on its home ice.
New York has lost three straight and five of its last six in Pittsburgh.