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Rangers Feast on Home Cooking

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

The Rangers wrapped up game No. 12 Tuesday night in a 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Of those 12 games, eight have been at Madison Square Garden. In year's past, the Rangers have been a better road team than home team, but thus far, The World's Most Famous Arena has been quite a home ice advantage.

The Blueshirts' victory Tuesday night extended the team's home point streak to five games. Over that span, New York has outscored opponents 20-5. The win improved the team's overall home record to 6-1-1.

A year ago, the team's sixth home win did not come until Nov. 19, in the team's 13th opportunity. The year before after opening the 2013-14 campaign with seven road games, the Rangers didn't get win No. 6 until Dec. 15, the team's 16th game.

"It's good to have a good record here for us," said Marc Staal, who finished Tuesday night with an assist, three blocked shots and a plus-1 rating in 19:27 of ice time. "We want to have that lore of it's going to be a tough night coming in here to get a win. Definitely good that we can get another one tonight."

The Rangers' four road games are tied with the Islanders for the fewest in the NHL. That will certainly change, with five of the next seven games on the road, starting Friday night with a back-to-back in Colorado and Arizona.

Derick Brassard, who scored a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to four games, said road trips are beneficial for teams, especially still early in a season.

"It's going to be fun to go on the road and be together as a team," Brassard said. "We've been playing at home since the beginning of the season. I felt like tonight, we played like a team that's played two games in 14 days almost. It's kind of hard to get going."

The Rangers have stated that despite winning games, there must be improvements to their game. Despite the win on Tuesday night, the Rangers were out-shot 34-21, and out-attempted 67 to 37.

"We are not jumping in the air right now," Brassard said. "We are pretty aware we beat a pretty good team, but at the same time, we know we didn't play our best hockey. When you win a game, you take it, you take the points, but we have to come out with a better execution in Colorado for the next game."

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The return of Viktor Stalberg to the lineup appeared to give the team a shot in the arm offensively, as Alain Vigneault slotted Stalberg with Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes to positive results. Lindberg and Hayes each scored a goal and an assist, while Stalberg notched one helper. The line combined for 10 of the team's 21 shots and was a plus-7.

"I thought that line tonight was our best line at both ends of the rink," Vigneault said. "When they were on the ice, I was calm. I knew they were going to make the right plays with the puck and they did, and that's why they were successful."

Lindberg now leads NHL rookies in goals with six, and is fourth in points with nine.

"I wasn't expecting it," Lindberg said of his start, "but I'm happy with the way I've been playing and the way the team has been playing."

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Tuesday marked Henrik Lundqvist's 630th appearance with the Rangers, passing Turk Broda for seventh all time in goaltender appearances with one team. No. 30 made 32 saves to improve to 6-2-2 this season. He leads the NHL with a .943 save percentage and is fifth in goals against average at 1.88, though only Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury has played as many games as Lundqvist's 10 thus far.

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