The New York Rangers head west hoping to extend a season-high winning streak they began on the road.
Looking for a sixth consecutive victory, the Rangers open a four-game trip Friday night against the Calgary Flames.
New York (41-29-4) had lost three of four when it opened a three-game trek with an 8-4 win at Ottawa on March 18. After outscoring Columbus and New Jersey 5-1 to complete the sweep, the Rangers returned home to earn a 4-3 overtime win against Phoenix and a key 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday in a potential first-round playoff preview.
Article continues below ...
Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves and defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored in his second straight game as the second-place Rangers extended their lead over the Flyers to three points in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round.
"We just have to keep going, not think too much, just keep on our details," said Lundqvist, who has now won at least 30 games in all eight non-lockout-shortened seasons in his nine-year career.
The Rangers last won six in a row as part of a seven-game run Oct. 31-Nov. 15, 2011. With an East-leading 23-13-0 mark away from home, New York can win five straight on the road for the third time this season while opening the trip through western Canada and Colorado.
Lundqvist has been in net throughout the five-game overall streak and has a 1.24 goals-against average over the last four.
McDonagh has three goals and four assists while earning at least one point in each of those five contests. In his fourth season, McDonagh has set career highs with 14 goals and 29 assists.
"For any team to win, you need your top players playing at a high level," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who will return to Vancouver on Tuesday night to face his former team.
"(Lundqvist) has found his game, and Ryan McDonagh has just been a force out there. He’s got to be getting some consideration for the Norris (Trophy) the way he is playing offensively and defensively."
Forward Chris Kreider has been a key contributor with 17 goals and 20 assists in his first full NHL season, but he’s out indefinitely due to a hand injury that will require surgery.
Kreider was injured one week ago in a win at Columbus, but played in the next two games. The left winger, who has 17 goals and 20 assists in 66 games this season, was limited to about 10 minutes of ice time in the two games following his injury.
Kreider scored the tying goal and Lundqvist made 18 saves as New York extended its winning streak over Calgary (30-36-7) to three games with a 4-3 shootout victory Dec. 15.
The Flames look to bounce back after they allowed Anaheim to erase a one-goal deficit with two third-period scores in Wednesday’s 3-2 home loss.
"That’s the way you learn sometimes, too. You learn from tough losses," forward Brian McGrattan said. "Our group hasn’t given up all year."
Karri Ramo, who prior to Wednesday stopped 57 of 59 shots in winning his first two starts since missing 15 games with a knee injury, made 29 saves before the seven-round shootout loss to the Rangers in December.