SAN JOSE, Calif. - For the steamrolling Rangers, harpooning the Sharks Saturday nigiht would nail down another three-game sweep out West after their hat trick in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton last month.
Dan Boyle has some personal motivation, too. He spent six seasons with the Sharks and holds team records for points and assists by a defenseman but was not re-signed last summer when the front office changed gears after another early playoff exit.
"It's a very meaningful game when you've been somewhere for a long time," said Boyle, 38, who has two goals and five assists in the last seven games and appears completely recovered from a broken hand and a flu-like illness that sidelined him at the start of the season.
"It's a little extra special," he said. "It means a lot to me, so hopefully we keep playing the way we're playing. A win would mean a lot and obviously to our team as well."
Boyle freely admits that he wouldn't have left San Jose, but when that door was closed, he jumped at the two-year, $9-million offer from the Rangers to quarterback the power play and join former Tampa Bay teammate Martin St. Louis.
"I've always said that the Garden was my favorite place to play on the road," Boyle said.
Sharks management wanted to create a younger roster, said Boyle, whose visage now includes a touch of gray. "I can't get any younger, so there wasn't too much I could do," he said. "It wasn't bitter. Obviously at the time, I would have like to have stayed, but it's water under the bridge."
With a healthier Boyle dishing one-touch passes, faking shots and firing from the right point, the Rangers have at least one power-play goal in eight of the last 10 games (12-for-31, 38.7 percent). They have risen to eighth in the league with the man advantage. That's Boyle's wheelhouse: He scored 32 power-play goals and handed out 104 assists with the Sharks.
The suddenly potent power play (2-for-4 against the Kings in Thursday night's 4-3 win) has boosted the entire offense for the Rangers. They have won 12 of 13 and have scored at least four goals in regulation in four consecutive games for the first time since February 2008.
That bodes well against the Sharks (22-15-5, but 5-4-1 in the last 10 games), whose penalty kill ranks 17th in the league and whose power play is in a 1-for-19 slide.
Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist, who is 10-1-0 with a 1.62 GAA in his last 11 appearances and stopped 33 shots in a 4-0 shutout of the Sharks in New York on Oct. 19, is expected to play Saturday night . . . Sharks center Joe Thornton (9-24-33 in 38 games) has missed four straight games with a left shoulder injury.