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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 28th (All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (41-29-4) at Calgary Flames (30-36-7), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers hope to continue their March surge when they take aim at a sixth consecutive victory in Friday's road test against the Calgary Flames.
In addition to recording a season-high with five straight wins, the Rangers also have eight victories over their past 11 games. The hot stretch has New York sitting second in the Metropolitan Division with a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers.
New York notched an important regulation decision over the visiting Flyers in its last trip to the ice. The Blueshirts entered the contest a point up on Philadelphia for second place and they were able to extend the cushion thanks to Wednesday's 3-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 30 shots to anchor the key victory and his effort was supported by goals from Derek Dorsett, Ryan McDonagh and Dominic Moore.
Lundqvist took a shutout deep into the third period before Jakub Voracek spoiled the bid with 1:53 remaining.
"I think both teams tonight knew the importance of this game, as far as we're battling for a playoff spot, battling for a playoff position," said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.
Wednesday's game may have been a preview of an opening-round playoff series. The top three teams in each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs, with the teams finishing second and third facing off against each other in the first round.
Although the Rangers are three points clear of the Flyers at the moment, Philadelphia does own two games in hand. However, none of the Flyers' remaining 10 regular-season games are against New York. Philadelphia is in action on Friday when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rangers are on their first five-game winning streak since Dec. 30, 2011 to Jan. 10, 2012. The last time New York posted six victories in a row was during a seven-game winning streak from Oct. 31-Nov. 15 of the same season.
Friday's contest marks the start of a four-game road trip for New York. The Rangers have played better away from Madison Square Garden this season than at home, going 23-13-0 on the road compared to an 18-16-4 mark in the Big Apple.
The Flames are headed for a fifth straight season out of the playoffs, but the rebuilding club had won two in a row before dropping Wednesday's game against Anaheim.
Calgary opened its three-game homestand with a 2-1 shootout win over San Jose on Monday. However, after beating the Pacific leaders, the Flames couldn't follow up with a win over the division's second-place team on Wednesday.
The Flames did hold a 2-1 lead over Anaheim after 40 minutes, but Mathieu Perreault and Andrew Cogliano scored in the third period to lift the Ducks to a 3-2 regulation victory.
Karri Ramo stopped 31 shots for the Flames, who were seeking their first three-game winning streak since rattling off a season-high five consecutive victories from Jan. 22-Feb. 1.
Perreault and Cogliano scored in identical fashion, with each one banging home a rebound of a shot from the point. A blocker save by Ramo resulted in a scramble and Perreault tied the game at 2-2 at 5:32 of the third, sweeping in the loose puck. Cogliano jumped on a rebound and buried a shot from near the bottom of the left circle, giving the Ducks the lead with 5:19 remaining.
"In the third period, they got two good breaks and they deserved them because they worked us hard," said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley.
The Flames fell to 17-18-3 at the Saddledome this season after Wednesday's loss. Next up for Calgary is a five-game road trip that begins with Sunday's tilt in Ottawa.
New York has won the last three meetings against the Flames, who last downed the Rangers on Nov. 7, 2009 when they notched a 3-1 decision at the Saddledome. The Blueshirts have won three of the previous five meetings in Calgary.
03/28 10:50:26 ET