The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning try to win consecutive games for the first time in more than three weeks when they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
After a season-high five-game winning streak from Nov. 27-Dec. 10, Tampa Bay had dropped seven of nine contests before Monday night's 2-1 road win over the New York Islanders.
Martin St. Louis - the reigning Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy winner as the league's most valuable player - scored a short-handed goal with 4:57 to play.
"That's Marty St. Louis, that's what he does," said rookie Paul Ranger, who assisted on St. Louis' game-winner, which also snapped a five-game scoring drought.
St. Louis has one goal in two games this season against the Rangers - both Tampa Bay losses.
Also in the win over the Islanders, goalie Sean Burke made 35 saves in his second consecutive start in place of slumping John Grahame.
"From our goaltending right on out, I thought we played well, I thought we played hard, I thought we created a lot of offense but you're still in the situation where you're not putting that puck in the net when you have those chances," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "The 20 minutes in the third period was very important in just finding a way."
This game marks the 10th time the Lightning have played games on consecutive days, tying them with the Atlanta Thrashers for the most in the league.
Tampa Bay is 4-3-2 when playing the second half of back-to-back games.
The Rangers return home after going 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip.
New York wrapped up the trip with a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers bounced back from three one-goal deficits, but couldn't kill off two penalties in overtime and rookie phenom Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal.
"After we scored the third goal, it felt like we had the game. We were confident," said Rangers' rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist
, who had 33 saves. "But when we take those penalties, it's hard. Four minutes of penalties in the overtime, it's too much."
All three New York goals Saturday came on the power play. The Rangers are 7-for-21 with the man advantage in their last four games.
Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist Saturday, his fifth multi-point effort in his last nine contests.
STANDINGS: Lightning - 43 points, 2nd place, 9 PB, Southeast Division. Rangers - 49 points, 2nd place, 7 PB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Fredrik Modin, 17 goals; Brad Richards
, 29 assists; Vaclav Prospal, 43 points; Pavel Kubina, 58 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 25 goals, 36 assists and 61 points; Michal Rozsival, 50 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 1): Lightning - Power play: 14.6 percent (35 for 240), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (161 for 198), 19th. Rangers - Power play: 17.1 percent (39 for 228), 17th. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (218 for 253), 2nd.
GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Grahame (15-13-1, 1 SO, 2.94 GAA); Burke (4-3-2, 0, 2.89). Rangers - Lundqvist (14-5-4, 1, 2.19); Kevin Weekes (8-7-1, 0, 2.98).
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 22, 2005; Rangers, 4-2. At New York, Tom Poti's power play goal with 1:48 remaining broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the Rangers to victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 9-8-2 on the road; Rangers - 11-5-2 at home.
- Associated Press