Rangers Vs. Panthers: Blueshirts Hope To Grab Back-To-Back Wins

(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers avoided a three-game losing streak with a win on Saturday and will try to make it back-to-back victories when they host the Florida Panthers tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers had lost two in a row before rebounding with Saturday's 4-1 victory in Buffalo. It was the sixth victory in eight trips to the ice for the Blueshirts, who are sitting third in the Atlantic Division and are just three points back of first-place Philadelphia.

Rookie Carl Hagelin scored twice and Martin Biron had 32 saves to help the Rangers skate past the Sabres on Saturday. With the victory, New York avoided its first three-game losing streak since starting the season 0-1-2.

Hagelin and Ryan Callahan had short-handed goals in the second period while Marian Gaborik scored on a power play late in the third to seal the win.

Callahan's goal at 18:51 of the second period snapped a 1-1 tie and Biron kept Buffalo off the board after that, allowing New York to build a cushion. Biron, who was a Sabres goaltender for nine seasons until 2007, made 12 of his 32 saves in the third period.

"It's a lot of fun to play here," Biron said.

New York's No. 1 netminder Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the start tonight and is 12-7-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average in 20 career games against Florida.

Rangers leading scorer Brad Richards had a point streak halted at seven games on Saturday. He had four goals and seven assists during the run and is leading New York with 24 points on the year.

New York is 7-2-2 on home ice this year, but has lost two straight (0-1-1) at MSG since a seven-game winning streak as the host. The Rangers will complete a brief two-game homestand Tuesday against Dallas.

Meanwhile, the Panthers had a three-game winning streak halted Friday in Buffalo, but Florida was still able to record a point in the 2-1 overtime loss. Jason Pominville scored the game-winner 2:19 into OT for the Sabres.

Jason Garrison tallied the lone goal for the Panthers, who trying to secure their first four-game winning streak since 2008. Scott Clemmensen stopped 18- of-20 shots in defeat.

"There's a large amount of disappointment," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said. "We're proud of the fact that we're playing stingy on defense, but at the end of the day we still have things to clean up."

Florida also attempted to take the points lead in the Eastern Conference with a win. The Panthers haven't held first place in the East after October since Feb. 12, 1997. Dineen's club enters tonight two points behind Philadelphia for the conference lead.

Tonight marks the final stop on a three-game road trip for the Panthers, who are 10-6-1 as the visiting team this season.

Florida notched a 2-1 home win against the Rangers on Nov. 23, giving the Panthers three victories in the last four meetings versus New York. The Rangers have taken five of eight overall in the series and two of the last three at MSG, but Florida still has four wins in its last six trips to the Big Apple.

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