Rangers seek to make history vs. Blue Jackets

By Thomson Reuters Feb 25, 2024 | 10:58 AM

The last time the New York Rangers were on the verge of winning 11 consecutive games came in 1973, and they ran into one of the NHL’s all-time dynasties in the Montreal Canadiens — and settled for a tie.

This time, the Rangers are facing the team with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference.

New York will attempt to set a team record with an 11th straight victory Sunday night when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets for the opener of a home-and-home set.

New York is on its third 10-game winning streak in team history. The first occurred from Dec. 19, 1939-Jan. 13, 1940, and the second double-digit run occurred from Jan. 19-Feb. 10, 1973.

In 1973, the Rangers were a period away from an 11th straight win but gave up goals to Frank Mahovlich and Chuck Lefley in a 2-2 tie with the Canadiens, who went on to win the second of their six Stanley Cups in the 1970s.

The Rangers started their current streak with a 7-2 rout at Ottawa on Jan. 27 after they had gone a middling 11-12-2 over their previous 25 games. They have outscored opponents 41-19 since then, and seven of their wins have come by two goals or fewer.

New York’s win streak also has moved them into a tie with the Boston Bruins for the most points (81) in the Eastern Conference. Following their most recent loss on Jan. 26 to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Rangers trailed the Bruins by eight points.

New York kept its streak going with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon and continued to get good goaltending and timely scoring while allowing at least 40 shots for the fourth straight game. Opponents had hit that mark only once this season.

“It’s definitely cool, something to be proud of, for sure,” Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said of the potential franchise record. “We’ll be happy about it tonight, and then you move on and get ready for the next one.”

Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves on Saturday to win his sixth straight start but Jonathan Quick likely will be in net against Columbus. Alexis Lafreniere scored his sixth goal during the winning streak and rookie Matt Rempe netted the tiebreaking goal to cap his first week in the NHL.

“It was good,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “It had a little bit of everything.”

Columbus was in the midst of a nine-game losing streak when Lafreniere scored the game-winner in the shootout to clinch a 4-3 victory for the Rangers Nov. 12 in New York. Since the previous meeting, the Blue Jackets are 14-21-6 over their past 41 games.

The Blue Jackets are also 5-7-1 in their past 13 since Jan. 13 but are coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. They have 46 points on the season.

Dmitri Voronkov scored his 15th goal on a power play in the first period but the Blue Jackets were held to one goal or fewer for the 12th time this season, and the latest instance occurred two nights after a 7-4 win at Anaheim.

“We’ve got to try to find a groove and keep rolling every single game,” Columbus forward Johnny Gaudreau said. “Once you feel comfortable and confident as a team you have to do it again the next game. Obviously, we’re not there yet.”

The Rangers are 7-3-0 in the past 10 meetings against Columbus, though Boone Jenner netted a hat trick on Oct. 14 in a 5-3 home win for the Blue Jackets.

–Field Level Media