So the Rangers road trip ended on a high note in Music City. Problem is, the musicians seemed too bushed to really celebrate.
"We 've played quite a bit of hockey lately," said Marc Staal, who skated a team high 27:47 in the 2-1 shootout win here in Nashville. "We had a slow start...we just ended up grinding it out and being patient, and (Henrik) Lundqvist got it for us."
Lundqvist, who had been pounded in Tampa and rebounded with a shutout in Sunrise, stopped 28 shots in regulation, another in overtime, and three huge ones in the shootout.
"The last two games I felt my timing has been pretty good," he said. "A lot of it is being patient, being on my feet...I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to help the team to get that extra point. Last season showed that extra point can be huge."
John Tortorella juggled line combinations with 11 forwards: Gaborik was felled by the flu and was at the hotel and Boogaard was scratched with a sore shoulder. "Give them a lot of credit---I look at Callahan blocking shots, Brian Boyle winning big faceoffs, Christensen playing a pretty good game for us."
In a chippy game, Sean Avery was his old irritating self, and battled with Jordin Tootoo twice. "Toots and Sean might have some sore of history," said Preds coach Barry Trotz. "I just wouldn't want to be in the middle of it."
Trotz also said Avery's inadvertent high stick to Cody Franson's neck---that wasn't penalized--- wasn't "intentional." Tortz said that in the third period, when when the Preds outshot the Rangers 11-5, "I think they had two chances and scored on one of them."
By the numbers:
The Rangers are 9-4 on the road and have won four of the last five overall.
Callahan's goal deflected off J. P. Dumont's foot. He has 17 points in his last 20 games.
Erik Christensen is 19 for 36 in career shootouts and it was his ninth game deciding goal. Derek Stepan and Callahan were stopped by Pekka Rinne in the shootout.
After the surging Penguins visit the Garden on Monday, December's schedule will be far kinder, with only 12 games overall, six of them at home. And three of the six away games won’t require flights: against the Islanders on Dec. 2, in Philadelphia on Dec. 18, and in New Jersey on Dec. 29.