The New York Rangers opened a three-game road trip with their best offensive outburst in eight contests. They'll look to keep the offense going on Thursday night and further their playoff hopes in a meeting with the Ottawa Senators.
The Rangers had been held to a pair of goals or fewer in six of seven before notching a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. It matched New York's season high for goals in a game and was the club's highest total since a 4-1 win at the Washington Capitals on March 10.
Rick Nash upped his team-leading goal total to 12 with a pair of tallies and also added an assist. His first goal was the 300th of his career, while Brad Richards scored the 250th goal of his career and also posted his 800th assist on a tally by Chris Kreider.
Derek Stepan had a goal and three assists and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves to help John Tortorella become the 30th head coach in NHL history to reach 400 wins. But more importantly to the Rangers' playoff hopes, the win kept them eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the New York Islanders and two back of the New Jersey Devils.
The five goals by the Rangers on Tuesday helped them snap a two-game slide and could have the offense pressing less ahead of this meeting with the Senators.
"You need something to break where you get five (goals) as a team and now everyone feels a little bit looser," said Richards. "Next practice, we will notice a difference right away. Those five goals as a team lets a little sigh out, but we can't let the foot off of the pedal. It's nice that we did that and it's nice that we can do that."
The Sens stand seven points ahead of the Rangers in the standings and fifth overall, two points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This despite a rash of injuries to goaltender Craig Anderson, forwards Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza and defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Anderson, though, has begun to practice and appears near to a return from a sprained ankle suffered in a 3-2 win over the Rangers on Feb. 21.
Ottawa took that home meeting with New York in a shootout and then recorded a 3-2 win at New York on March 8 to push its series winning streak to four in a row. The Sens have won back-to-back games in Ottawa versus the Rangers following a six-game series home losing streak.
The Senators have won two straight and five of their past six overall, including Monday's 3-2 shootout win over the Devils. Daniel Alfredsson and Mika Zibanejad scored in the breakaway session, with Ben Bishop following Zibanejad's winner with a stop on Andrei Loktionov.
"I think we were able to take advantage of some of the mistakes they made tonight," said Bishop, who made 32 saves and stopped 3-of-4 in the shootout. "Our guys did a great job of keeping their shots to the outside and cleaning up any loose pucks that made it to the front of the net."
Chris Phillips and Colin Greening each had a goal while Zibanejad added an assist.
The rookie center had the game-tying goal with 6:30 left in regulation in the shootout win at home over the Rangers.