The New York Rangers look to improve their play on the road, and move closer to earning their first Atlantic Division title since winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 when they meet the Boston Bruins.
New York has already clinched its first playoff berth since 1997, and is looking to secure its first division crown in 12 years. The Rangers are trying to hold off second-place Philadelphia, which New York visits on April 15.Four of New York's final six games are on the road, where it has lost seven of its last eight and has the second-fewest victories among the NHL's six division leaders.The Rangers trailed 1-0 early in the second period Thursday before scoring three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 home win over the New York Islanders. Martin Straka scored twice for his second multigoal outing in four games while Jarkko Immonen added his first NHL goal for the Rangers."This game was huge," Straka said. "These are the teams that we need to beat. ... You never know what could happen (with the playoff race). We just want to win the division and we took a big step toward that tonight."Straka almost didn't get credit for his go-ahead goal in the second period after it was originally given to Jaromir Jagr, who alerted officials that he never touched the puck. Jagr's next goal will break the Rangers' single-season record of 52, set by Adam Graves during the 1993-94 season."I knew I didn't touch it," said Jagr, who leads the NHL with 52 goals and 115 points. "If I score my 53rd, I don't want it to be that way. If I get that goal, I want it to be a good-looking goal."
Backup goalie Kevin Weekes stopped 21 shots playing in place of Henrik Lundqvist
, who has missed two games with a sore hip. The Rangers are also playing without center Steve Rucchin, who is day-to-day with an injured right foot.
New York is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games following a season-high six-game losing streak, and will be facing a Boston team that just saw its recent skid end.
The Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday as rookie Brad Boyes scored the only goal in the shootout of a 3-2 victory over Toronto.
"He has made huge strides in a tremendous rookie season," said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan, whose team has been eliminated from playoff contention. "He has taken advantage of our personnel changes and is a big piece of our nucleus going forward."
New York has won all three meetings with Boston this season.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 98 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Bruins - 71 points, 5th place, 37 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Jagr, 52 goals, 63 assists and 115 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 97 PIM. Bruins - Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm, 28 goals; Bergeron and Boyes, 40 assists; Bergeron, 68 points; Hal Gill, 120 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 6): Rangers - Power play: 18.7 percent (78 for 417), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (382 for 452), 5th. Bruins - Power play: 15.3 percent (61 for 399), 24th. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (381 for 456), 13th.
GOALTENDERS: Rangers - Weekes (13-10-3, 2.82); Al Montoya (no appearances). Bruins - Tim Thomas (12-11-7, 1 SO, 2.64); Andrew Raycroft (8-19-2, 3.71).
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: March 20; Rangers, 5-2. At New York, Michal Rozsival had a goal and two assists and Straka added a goal and an assist.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 18-13-6 on the road; Bruins - 16-14-8 at home.