Toronto Maple Leafs (30-29-6) at New York Rangers (37-19-10) Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
/ New York Rangers
The New York Rangers finally put their worst slump of the season behind them their last time out.
They'll now look to win back-to-back games for the first time since before the Olympic break when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
New York won its last six contests before the break and extended that run to seven in its first game back, but then went on to lose a season-high six in a row before Thursday's 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals.
Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner, his NHL-leading 45th goal, at 7:08 of the third period. It was his ninth game-winning goal of the season, tying the team record set by Don Maloney in 1980-81 and matched by Mark Messier in 1996-97.
"He was the difference maker," coach Tom Renney said. "The strength of the man and the ability to get around the defenseman, get it to the net and put it away is unbelievable. That's what makes him special."
Jagr also picked up his 51st assist for the Rangers, who are in position to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
"We needed this game big time," said Michael Nylander, who had three assists. "We got it, and it's going to be an energy booster and a confidence booster."
The Rangers scored three times on the power play after totaling just nine goals during their losing streak. New York, however, did blow a two-goal lead for the second straight home game.
"It was not pretty. That might be the understatement of the year," Renney said.
Sandis Ozolinsh scored his first goal since being acquired last week from Anaheim, and rookie Petr Prucha scored his first since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the Olympics. Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves in his first victory since leading Sweden to the gold medal at Turin.
"It's great to win this game, we have been waiting for it for two weeks," said Lundqvist, who is three wins shy of the Rangers rookie record of 29. "I think it gives us more energy and hopefully we'll have a really good game (against Toronto) on Saturday."
The Maple Leafs had a two-game win streak snapped in the opener of a three-game trip Thursday, falling 3-1 to Buffalo. Mats Sundin scored for Toronto, which trails Montreal by five points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"If we have the same work ethic we had tonight we have a good chance to make the playoffs," Sundin said.
Mikael Tellqvist made 30 saves in his third straight start in place of Ed Belfour, who is expected to miss at least a week with inflammation in his back.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 24 goals; Tomas Kaberle, 47 assists; Bryan McCabe, 59 points and 94 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 45 goals and 96 points; Jagr and Martin Straka, 51 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 91 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 16): Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.2 percent (83 for 412), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.4 percent (324 for 403), 24th. Rangers - Power play: 18.3 percent (67 for 366), 10th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (340 for 398), 5th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Tellqvist (8-7-2, 1 SO, 2.88 GAA); Jean-Sebastien Aubin (no appearances). Rangers - Lundqvist (26-9-8, 2, 2.12); Kevin Weekes (11-10-2, 2.90).
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 11; Rangers, 4-2. At Toronto, Jagr scored two goals in the teams' final game before the Olympics.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 10-17-4 on the road; Rangers - 20-7-6 at home.