The race for the rookie of the year award will likely come down to top overall draft picks Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Rangers rookie Petr Prucha, however, is making sure he isn't overlooked.
Prucha looks to continue his scoring surge when New York wraps up its three-game Western Conference road trip against the St. Louis Blues.
Prucha, New York's eighth-round pick in the 2002 draft, scored two more goals Thursday in the Rangers' 5-1 rout of Nashville. The right wing has six goals in his last four games.
Prucha has 12 goals overall and is battling Ovechkin, Crosby and Marek Svatos of Colorado for the league lead among first-year players.
Prucha's teammate, Henrik Lundqvist
, has matched Prucha's breakout season. Lundqvist has given up only four goals in his last three games, stopping 69 of 73 shots, and leads rookie goaltenders with 12 wins.
"It's good to be a goalie on this team right now," Lundqvist said.
Rangers leading scorer Jaromir Jagr had a goal and two assists in the win over Nashville, giving him 15 multipoint games this season.
The Rangers will be looking to finish their trip with a winning record after dropping the opener 2-1 in overtime to Chicago on Wednesday night.
St. Louis is trying to avoid its fourth three-game losing streak of the season. Tampa Bay erased a two-goal Blues lead with four straight goals and defeated St. Louis 5-4 on Thursday.
Keith Tkachuk scored with 18 seconds to play, but that came after an empty-netter gave Tampa Bay a two-goal advantage.
"We had them down 3-1 ... we can't be scared to make the next play," Blues forward Mike Sillinger said. "It's almost like we're afraid of success. You've got to know how to win. You've got to want it. ... It's just a fine line between winning and losing."
Sillinger and Tkachuk each had a goal and two assists in the loss. Tkachuk, who missed time with weight issues after the lockout and injuries at the start of the season, has recently started to play well.
Tkachuk has three straight multipoint games, recording four goals and five assists in that span. He has three goals and three assists in his last two games against New York.
The Blues have the fewest wins and the worst record in the league, putting a streak of 25 straight playoff appearances in jeopardy. St. Louis last failed to make the playoffs in 1979, when it finished 18-50-12.
The Rangers are 0-4-1 in their last five games against the Blues since a 4-1 win Jan. 22, 2000 at the Savvis Center.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 7): Rangers - 42 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Blues - 13 points, 5th place, 27 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 22 goals and 46 points; Jagr, Martin Straka, 24 assists; Michal Rozsival and Darius Kasparaitis, 40 PIM. Blues - Dean McAmmond, 9 goals; Doug Weight, 14 assists; Weight and Sillinger, 19 points; Jamal Mayers, 45 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 7): Rangers - Power play: 16.3 percent (154 for 184), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.3 percent (172 for 197), 2nd. Blues - Power play: 15.3 percent (27 for 176), 23rd (tied). Penalty killing: 79.7 percent (126 for 158), 24th.
GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Lundqvist (12-4-3, 1 SO, 2.07 GAA); Kevin Weekes (7-4-1, 2.79). Blues - Curtis Sanford (2-4-0, 1, 3.35); Patrick Lalime (3-11-3, 3.91).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Blues, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 1, 2004; Blues, 5-4. At St. Louis, former Ranger Weight had three assists and Tkachuk had a goal and two assists to lead the Blues.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 9-6-2 on the road; Blues - 3-10-1 at home.
- Associated Press