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Sizzling Rangers seek 9th consecutive win with Devils up next

Feb 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

During their longest winning streak in nearly a decade, the New York Rangers are earning a mix of low- and high-scoring victories.

Showing they are capable of winning any type of game, the Rangers attempt to earn a ninth straight victory on Thursday night when they head to Newark, N.J., for their second game this season against the inconsistent New Jersey Devils.

The Rangers are outscoring opponents 34-17 during their first eight-game winning streak since a nine-game run from Oct. 25-Nov. 15, 2015. The streak comes on the heels of a middling 11-12-2 stretch that threatened their lead atop the Metropolitan Division, but now New York holds a six-point advantage over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Half of the victories are when New York scored three goals or fewer and six are decided by two goals or less. The latest was Tuesday’s 3-1 home win over the Dallas Stars in which the Rangers never trailed and got stellar goaltending two days after coming back for a 6-5 overtime win in the Stadium Series against the New York Islanders.

Igor Shesterkin won his fourth straight start by making a season-high 41 saves as the Rangers allowed a season-high 42 shots on goal and improved to 33-2-2 when conceding three goals or fewer.

New York also got some secondary scoring beyond its stars of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, who had combined for seven goals and seven assists over the previous two games.

Adam Fox scored the first goal, giving the defenseman seven points over his past three games. Kaapo Kakko also scored to tie a career high with a five-game point streak, and Panarin added an assist to give him 75 points on the season.

“I thought it would have been easy for us, after that emotional win (Sunday), to maybe have a little letdown in emotion or energy here, but I thought we were on it from the start,” Fox said. “I think the last two games our first periods weren’t great. I think, obviously, getting a goal helped to start with a lead, and again, it was just a good defensive effort.”

Panarin was held out of practice on Wednesday due to a lower-body injury after blocking a shot by the Stars’ Jamie Benn in the third period, but he is expected to play Thursday.

Like the Rangers, the Devils enjoyed a rousing victory in the Stadium Series, but their follow-up performance to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers was a dud.

New Jersey is four points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and is a pedestrian 9-10-2 over its past 21 games since winning three straight from Dec. 23-29.

On Tuesday, the Devils allowed four goals in the third period of a 6-2 loss at Washington. The Devils had 39 shots on goal, but Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes were stopped a combined 12 times.

“We had our chances earlier in the game, and for two periods I thought we were the better team,” Hischier said. “But the third, we got too frustrated, weren’t sharp enough in front of our net and we just left tap-ins all over the ice. It’s just not good enough.”

The Rangers claimed a 5-3 victory in the first meeting with the Devils this season on Nov. 18, when Panarin scored two goals and Vincent Trocheck collected three assists.

–Field Level Media

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