Rangers hope to build on win in Winnipeg
With the desperate effort of a team battling for a playoff spot, the Rangers put the brakes on a two-game road skid in Winnipeg on Friday night.
Sunday, they need the same effort against the experienced, confident and deep San Jose Sharks, who have won five in a row, at Madison Square Garden in a 4 p.m. matinee.
"Now we need to build on it, and get on another run here," Marc Staal said after the 4-2 win in Winnipeg.
If the Rangers (36-27-4), who are in a pitched battle with Columbus and Philadelphia for two automatic postseason slots in the Metropolitan Division, needed any extra motivation, it would be generated by Henrik Lundqvist's attempt to become the franchise leader in wins with 302.
It also will be the first game between the teams since the Sharks torched the Rangers 9-2 in San Jose on Oct. 8.
"I don't know what the retribution would be," coach Todd McLellan said after Sharks dispatched the Islanders on Friday. "We had a real good night; anything we did went our way and basically, anything they did didn't go their way. There was no intent to run up the score. It will be a hard game."
Against the Sharks, Lundqvist will have to be sharper than in the first period against the Jets in Winnipeg on Friday when two of the first five shots got past him. The Sharks (44-17-7, third in the West) lead the NHL with 67 first-period goals.
Coach Alain Vigneault hopes his penalty kill remains effective, which is 26 for the last 27.
"We're pressuring as a group," explained Staal. "We're pretty cohesive in the reads we're making, and when we do break down, we get a big save."
Notes & quotes: Carl Hagelin posted his first career hat trick against Winnipeg . . . D Kevin Klein didn't record a point since being acquired from Nashville for Michael Del Zotto on Jan. 22. With two assists against the Jets, he has a goal and three points in the last three games . . . Dan Girardi is tied for 7th in the league with 150 blocked shots . . . After today's game, the Rangers return to the road for a week, with games in Ottawa Tuesday, Columbus on Friday and New Jersey Saturday.