A big first period last night propelled the New York 1-1 record at home. The Rangers game residency Sunday versus the Winnipeg Jets before playing five of their next six games away from Madison Square Garden.
Erik Christensen, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto all scored in the first period of Saturday's 5-3 victory over the surging Montreal Canadiens. Brad Richards scored to make it 4-2 and Ryan Callahan added an empty-net goal for New York, which had a 16-3 shot advantage in the opening stanza.
"It was huge," Rangers goaltender Henry Lundqvist said of Richard's goal. "The momentum was about to change, it already had changed a little bit, so that goal got us back into the game and it felt like we were on top again. He's a big player that makes big plays at big times and that one was huge for us."
Lundqvist made 25 saves in the win. Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski did not play Saturday because of a groin problem and head coach John Tortorella notched his 100th win with the team.
New York is 6-2-1 in its last nine games and will visit Ottawa on Wednesday before returning to MSG to host Carolina. It will then open a four-game swing against the Islanders, Canadiens, Panthers and Capitals. The Rangers began their season with seven straight road games.
Winnipeg will continue a seven-game road trip Sunday and is coming off Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss in New Jersey. Adam Henrique's second goal of the night 1:28 into overtime lifted the Devils to victory, while Jim Slater and Mark Flood provided the offense for the Jets.
"They try to frustrate you and if you get away from your game, they create turnovers and make you pay," Slater said. "We did a good job sticking with the game plan."
Dustin Byfuglien had a pair of assists and Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves in his fifth straight start. The Jets, who have registered a point in four of their last five games (3-1-1), entered last night's tilt with four wins in six tries and will wrap up this road trip Tuesday at Buffalo.
The last time the Winnipeg franchise visited Madison Square Garden was Oct. 11, 1995 in a 6-4 loss. Ray Ferraro and Adam Graves both had two goals, and netminder Mark Richter turned aside 30 shots. Richards leads the current Rangers with 17 goals and 36 assists in 47 career regular-season contests versus the Jets.
New York defeated Winnipeg, 2-1, on the road Oct. 24. Callahan scored the game-winner in the third period and Martin Biron, making his first start of the season, stopped 27 shots.