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Toronto Maple Leafs (27-23-5) at New York Rangers (33-15-8)
Friday, 7 p.m. ET

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The surging New York Rangers look for their fifth straight victory when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opener of a home-and-home series.


The Rangers have scored 22 goals during the four-game winning streak and are converting 36.3 percent (8-for-22) of their power-play opportunities over that span. New York has the league's 17th-ranked power play at 17.0 percent.

"I hope we're developing a reputation as a team that's tough to beat, whether at home or on the road," said New York coach Tom Renney, whose team has won eight of its past 10 games. "I hope that we're being identified as a team that plays a responsible game without the puck, that we are solid from the goaltender out."

The Rangers and rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist shut down the high-scoring Senators 5-1 on Wednesday night. Lundqvist, likely to be Sweden's starter when the Olympics begin next week, made 24 saves to win for the 10th time in 13 starts.

New York killed off all eight short-handed situations against Ottawa and hasn't allowed a power-play goal in 14 chances over the last two games.

"It just comes down to positioning and really hard work, and I think the guys did that for most of the game tonight," Rangers center Steve Rucchin said. "They did a good job killing the penalty tonight, which can be a tough situation to deal with."

Jaromir Jagr, who leads the NHL with 83 points, scored his 36th goal of the season to tie Mike Bossy for 16th place on the all-time list with 573. Jagr also passed Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull to move into 18th on the all-time scoring list with 1,392 points.

The Maple Leafs have gotten solid performances from goalie Ed Belfour to win two straight following a stretch of 10 losses in 11 games.

Belfour made 36 saves as the Maple Leafs beat New Jersey 4-2 on Saturday, then made 33 stops - two on short-handed breakaways - to help Toronto top Atlanta 4-1 on Tuesday.

"When he stopped those shots on the breakaway, we knew he was on his game," said Kyle Wellwood, one of four Maple Leafs to score Tuesday. "All we had to do after that is play hard and score a goal or two to win."

Toronto will be looking for its first three-game winning streak since winning six in a row from Dec. 23-Jan. 2.

"We've run the gamut of emotions over the last little while, that's for sure," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "These were a big two points on the board here tonight."

The Maple Leafs, who have won five in a row over the Rangers, host New York on Saturday.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 8): Maple Leafs - 59 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Northeast Division. Rangers - 74 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 22 goals; Jason Allison, 38 assists; Bryan McCabe, 51 points and 66 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 36 goals and 83 points; Jagr and Martin Straka, 47 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 77 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 8): Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.5 percent (70 for 342), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (277 for 343), 22nd. Rangers - Power play: 17.0 percent (53 for 311), 19th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (287 for 337), 4th.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (21-18-3, 3.29 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (6-5-2, 1 SO, 2.79). Rangers - Lundqvist (24-7-6, 2, 2.09); Kevin Weekes (9-8-2, 3.04).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 15; Maple Leafs, 2-1. At Toronto, McCabe scored on a two-man advantage in the first period and gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead with another power-play goal at 3:37 of the third.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 10-14-3 on the road; Rangers - 18-6-5 at home.
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