(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging New York Rangers take aim at a fourth consecutive victory on Monday, as they host the Anaheim Ducks in an interconference battle at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers went 3-6-0 on a season-opening nine game road trip, but things have been looking up for the Blueshirts since playing their home opener on Oct. 28 against Montreal. Although New York dropped a 2-0 decision to the Habs in that contest, the Rangers have since won three in a row and recorded their two most recent victories on home ice.
New York hasn't won four in a row since a four-game winning streak from Feb. 28-March 7 of last season.
After notching a 3-2 road win against the rival New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Blueshirts opened a four-game homestand with Thursday's 2-0 triumph against Buffalo. The Rangers then recorded their most lopsided win of the season Saturday against Carolina, scoring a season-high five goals in the 5-1 rout of the visiting Hurricanes.
Derek Stepan broke out of a scoring drought by netting his first three goals of the season to lead the way in Saturday's blowout win over the 'Canes. Carl Hagelin added a pair of goals to support Stepan's second career hat trick, while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 27-of-28 shots in the victory.
Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello each recorded three assists in the rout.
"We didn't have the start we wanted but we battled back and (Lundqvist) kept us in the game," said Hagelin. "All the lines started going and we got our chances."
Hagelin has two goals and one assist in three games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
However, the Rangers are still playing without key forwards Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) and Rick Nash (concussion). Callahan, the team captain, has began skating and is nearing a return from his injury, but is expected to sit out an eighth straight game tonight.
Meanwhile, Nash remains sidelined indefinitely with a head injury suffered in the third game of the season.
The Ducks are capping their longest road trip of the season on Monday and have recorded a solid 4-2-1 record on the swing so far. Anaheim began the trek with consecutive regulation setbacks in Toronto and Montreal, but has righted itself with a 4-0-1 mark in the past five outings.
Bruce Boudreau's club improved to 6-3-1 as the visiting team this season after Saturday's 6-3 decision in Buffalo. Corey Perry and Emerson Etem scored two goals apiece and Ryan Getzlaf added a goal and two assists to help the Ducks down the lowly Sabres.
Sami Vatanen also scored for the Ducks and Jonas Hiller only needed to make 14 saves to earn the win.
Down 1-0, Anaheim scored three consecutive goals before the end of the second period to make it 3-1. The Ducks pushed their edge to 5-1 in the early stages of the third period and cruised to the victory from there.
"It took us about a period to get going. It's frustrating," said Getzlaf. "Obviously I am happy with our effort after that first period to get back into the hockey game. We had a will to win."
After closing its lengthy trip on Monday, the Ducks will play their next three games on home ice, beginning with Wednesday's tilt against Phoenix. Anaheim is a perfect 5-0 as the host this season, including a 6-0 win over New York on Oct. 10.
Hiller made 34 saves to lift the Ducks to their third victory in four games versus the Rangers. Anaheim, though, has lost its past three trips to Madison Square Garden.