When it comes to winning on the road, the New York Rangers are on a roll they have never experienced, not even during 1993-94 when they last won a Stanley Cup.
It is a well-timed run as it is keeping the Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York puts its team-record eight-game road winning streak on the line Thursday night with a visit to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Rangers have outscored opponents by a 30-15 margin during the streak since its road loss on Jan. 11 in St. Louis. They broke the previous mark for a road winning streak set from Jan. 12-Feb. 12, 1935 and matched from Oct. 28, 1978-Nov. 29, 1978.
It also is putting the Rangers in the mix for a wild-card spot. They reside four points behind Columbus for the second wild-card spot.
“Nobody inside the walls of that locker room is surprised and neither is the staff,” Rangers coach David Quinn said.
The Rangers kept the streak going on Tuesday after Mika Zibanejad scored on a slap shot 28 seconds into overtime in a 4-3 victory over the rival Islanders. Zibanejad’s 29th goal allowed the Rangers to overcome squandering a two-goal lead and gave New York a fourth straight win and its eighth in nine games.
Artemi Panarin also scored a goal before setting up Zibanejad’s overtime tally.
Panarin, who has a career-high 32 goals, is riding the second-longest point streak of his career. He has five goals and nine assists during a 10-game point run.
Zibanejad has seven goals and seven assists during a career-high eight-game point streak. His next goal will be his 30th, matching a career high set last season.
“It means a lot,” Zibanejad said. “The last couple years, we’ve been basically out with a month and a half or whatever (left). Now, it’s important games and tight games. I’m proud of everyone, from the older guys to the young guys, how we’re battling.”
While the Rangers are rolling, the Canadiens are fading.
Montreal won nine of 12 games from Jan. 11-Feb. 8. Since then, the Canadiens are 2-5-1 in their last eight games and are nine points behind Columbus.
On Tuesday, Montreal squandered an early two-goal lead and absorbed a 4-3 overtime home loss to the Vancouver Canucks. It continued the dubious trend of struggling in third periods and in one-goal games as Montreal dropped to 18-5-4 when leading after 40 minutes.
“That’s where you need to have that killer instinct and that’s one thing we haven’t done well enough this year is when you have teams on the ropes, put them away,” Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher told reporters.
Paul Byron and captain Shea Weber scored in the opening 7:23 of Tuesday’s game while former Rangers forward Jordan Weal tallied early in the third period.
The Canadiens, however, allowed two power-play goals in their first game since dealing Ilya Kovalchuk to Washington and Nate Thompson to Philadelphia.
Montreal has won 11 of the past 15 meetings with New York and the teams traded one-goal victories in the first two encounters earlier this season.
The Rangers scored three times in the third period and rallied from a four-goal deficit in a 6-5 win at Montreal on Nov. 23. The Canadiens answered with a 2-1 victory in New York on Dec. 6.
–Field Level Media