Playoff-hopeful Rangers aim to stay hot in Florida

The New York Rangers' latest offensive hot streak has proven they can be a dangerous team come playoff time.

They just have to get there first.

With a little help, the Rangers hope to clinch their third straight postseason appearance on Tuesday night as they visit the NHL-worst Florida Panthers.

New York sits in the middle of the NHL with 2.58 goals per game, but has tallied 18 goals over a current three-game winning streak. The Rangers followed up an 8-4 victory at Buffalo with Sunday's 4-1 triumph over the New Jersey Devils.

Ryan Callahan scored twice, Taylor Pyatt and Derek Stepan added goals and Brad Richards notched two assists for New York, which is 8-2-1 over its past 11 games.

"We're scoring. We're converting our chances," Callahan said. "We had belief in here all year long that we could score goals."

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for New York, which is seeking its seventh playoff berth in the last eight years.

"We're doing a lot of good things. All the small details in the game and that's why we're scoring more I think," said Lundqvist. "Also confidence. You can tell guys are making great plays right now and it all starts with confidence."

The Rangers are tied for seventh in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators as both teams have 52 points on the season. New York, which owns the current tiebreaker with the Sens, is also just one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets but with a game in hand.

The Jets are visiting the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night and the Rangers can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Panthers and a regulation loss by Winnipeg.

New York, which was without center Brian Boyle for a third straight game due to a right leg injury, will visit Carolina on Thursday before closing out the regular season at home on Saturday versus the Devils, who the Rangers eliminated from the playoff race with Sunday's win.

First, they'll take on a Panthers team that has lost six in a row and is last in the NHL with 32 points. Florida has not scored more than two goals in any of its past seven games and has been outscored 30-8 on its recent slide, including a 6-1 setback at the Rangers on Thursday.

Florida was blanked 3-0 by the hosting Boston Bruins on Sunday. Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 shots in defeat.

The Panthers have lost six in a row in regulation for the first time this season. They went 0-5-1 from March 7-16.

After hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Panthers end the season at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

The Rangers have won four of five and nine of their past 13 overall against the Panthers while winning four of their last six in Florida.