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Rangers Vs. Panthers: Keys To The Game

The New York Rangers are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night, a win which snapped a mini two-game losing streak.

Tonight the Rangers will look to turn that two-game losing streak into a two-game winning streak, when they host the Florida Panthers. Here's now they can make that happen:

Get An Early Start: The Rangers saw firsthand what can happen when you come out slow against the Panthers. In the only meeting between the two teams so far this season the Rangers fell into an early 2-0 hole and ended up losing 2-1. Fatigue will be a factor tonight, since the Rangers played on the road last night, but a quick start can get the Garden rocking and give the Rangers a big boost early.

All Hail The King: The Rangers got Martin Biron so he would be able to keep Henrik Lundqvist fresh. And even though the Rangers played last night, Biron got the start so Lundqvist should be fresh and ready to go tonight. That's good news for the Rangers, who will probably be tired themselves, which might lead to a few turnovers early on. Lundqvist will have to be sharp from the get-go.

Join me after the jump for more keys and the Rangers' official pregame notes.

Convert On The Power Play: Not much more to say here. The Rangers dominated the special teams battle against Buffalo, although they did it on the shorthanded side of the game, scoring two shorthanded goals in one period. Score on the power play and it will be a much easier game in the end.

Keep Up The Momentum: The Rangers got a huge win over the Sabres on the road Saturday. Not only did it stop a two-game slide but it also allowed the Rangers to move on from those two loses, and focus on creating a winning streak tonight. We've already seen what confidence has done to the Rangers' game this year, another win will go a long way in moving that forward.

Sunday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Rangers: 16-6-4 (36 pts)
Panthers: 16-8-5 (37 pts)

* All information through NHL games on Dec. 10

The Rangers will face-off against the Florida Panthers tomorrow at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), to conclude their back-to-back set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 16-6-4 (36 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, earlier tonight at First Niagara Center, to record the 2,500th win in franchise history. New York has now recorded at least one point in 15 of their last 18 contests (13-3-2). The Panthers enter the contest with a 16-8-5 (37 pts) record to rank third in the Eastern Conference, and have recorded points in four straight games (3-0-1). Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their fourth game in six days.

Please note there is no morning skate scheduled prior to tomorrow's contest. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 5:20 p.m. in the Press Conference Room, located on the fifth floor in the Media Center at Madison Square Garden.
* Schedule and availability subject to change

* TV: MSG Network
7:00 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig and Brian Leetch
7:30 p.m. - Rangers vs. Panthers
Broadcasters: John Giannone (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and
7:00 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:30 p.m. - Rangers vs. Panthers
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)

* All-Time: 38-26-6-4 overall (19-13-4-0 at home; 19-13-2-4 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the second of four meetings this season, and the first of two at Madison Square Garden. New York is 0-1-0 following a 2-1 loss on Nov. 23 at BankAtlantic Center. Derek Stepan tallied the lone Rangers goal, assisted by Marian Gaborik and Ryan McDonagh. Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves.
* Last Season: New York was 2-2-0 overall, with a 1-1-0 mark at home. Three of their four meetings resulted in a shutout, including two for the Rangers. New York's power play tallied two goals in nine attempts (22.2%) in the season series. Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan each notched a team-high, two goals, while Henrik Lundqvist posted a record of 2-1-0 with a 1.35 GAA, .949 Sv% and two shutouts in three appearances.
* The Rangers have won five of their last eight games against the Panthers, having out-scored Florida 18-12 over the span
* New York ranks 16th with a 7-2-2 (16 pts) record at home; Florida ranks third with a 10-6-1 (21 pts) mark on the road
* The Rangers have posted a 6-1-1 record vs. Southeast Division opponents; the Panthers are 5-2-0 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 12-7-1 record with a 1.81 GAA and five shutouts in 20 career regular season games vs. Florida; Martin Biron is 7-12-1-0 with a 2.68 GAA in 21 career regular season games vs. the Panthers
* Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 14 goals, 26 assists and 40 points in 47 career regular season games vs. Florida; Marian Gaborik has registered 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 career regular season contests vs. the Panthers
* New York lists one former Panther on their roster: Steve Eminger (2008-09)
* Florida lists one former Ranger on their roster: Mikael Samuelsson (2001-02 - 2002-03)

* Power Play: The Rangers tallied one goal in four power play opportunities (6:24) last night at Buffalo, and are 8-34 (23.5%) in their last eight games. New York ranks 21st overall (17-108, 15.7%) and ninth at home (11-53, 20.8%). The Rangers are 2-10 (7:37) in five-on-three situations (last – 12/05 vs. TOR), and 0-4 (3:46) when four-on-three (last – 11/3 vs. ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 12/5 vs. TOR (Steckel); 12/8 vs. TBL (Moore).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Sabres scoreless and notched two shorthanded goals in three shorthanded situations (4:33) last night at Buffalo. New York ranks eighth overall (84-98, 85.7%) and fifth at home (31-35, 88.6%). The Rangers are 4-5 (2:35) in three-on-five situations (last – 12/8 vs. TBL), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last – 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (4): 10/20 at CGY (Prust); 12/8 vs. TBL (Anisimov); 12/10 at BUF (Hagelin); 12/10 at BUF (Callahan).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (1:27) last night at Buffalo. The Rangers are plus-three in 32 four-on-four situations (58:21), and even in one three-on-three situation (0:01). Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).

The Rangers are scheduled to play 14 back-to-back sets this season. New York has posted a record of 3-0-1 (1-0-0 at home, 2-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 2-0-1 (2-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 23-8-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets, with an 11-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span. Henrik Lundqvist has started on consecutive days 56 times in his career, posting a record of 35-14-7 with a 1.82 GAA, .935 Sv% and six shutouts in the second game. The Rangers will conclude their fourth back-to-back set tonight vs. Florida at MSG.

The Blueshirts' 36 points through 26 games (16-6-4) is their best start to the season since the team posted a 17-7-2 (36 pts) mark through 26 in 2008-09, and is only two points shy of the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Championship team's 38 points in 26 games (18-6-2).

The Rangers tallied two shorthanded goals in the second period of last night's game at Buffalo, from Carl Hagelin at 11:34 and Ryan Callahan at 18:51. It was Hagelin's first career shorthanded goal/point, and Callahan's first shorthanded goal/point of the season (third shorthanded goal of his career). The last time the Rangers tallied two shorthanded goals in a game was Jan. 20, 2009 vs. Anaheim, from Fredrik Sjostrom (3:22 of the 2nd Period) and Blair Betts (19:26 of the 3rd Period). The last time the Blueshirts notched two shorthanded goals in the same period was during the second period on Mar. 6, 1997 at Los Angeles, from Bill Berg at 6:09 and Niklas Sundstrom at 15:11. New York has now registered three shorthanded goals in the last two games. *courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau

The Rangers registered their 2,500th win in franchise history with a 4-1 victory at Buffalo last night, becoming the fifth franchise in NHL history to reach the milestone (Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto). Below is a list of other Rangers milestone wins (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau):
* 1st win on Nov. 16, 1926 vs. MTLM (1-0)
* 500th win on Jan. 25, 1951 at CHI (2-1)
* 1,000th win on Feb. 22, 1970 vs. TOR (5-3)
* 1,500th win on Oct. 10, 1983 vs. LAK (2-1)
* 2,000th win on Jan. 4, 1997 vs. OTT (6-4)

* The Rangers have the fewest regulation losses (six) in the NHL
* New York has registered a point in 15 of their last 18 games (13-3-2), and have out-scored their opponent, 61-41, during the stretch
* The Blueshirts are 8-34 (23.5%) on the power play in their last eight contests, and have posted a record of 11-1-2 in games when tallying a power play goal
* New York is 4-1-1 when leading after the first period and 10-0-2 when leading after the second
* The Blueshirts lead the league with an .889 win% when out-shooting their opponent (8-1-0)
* The Rangers are 7-0-0 all-time in games when Brandon Prust is assessed a fighting major in the opening two minutes
* The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL when scoring first, posting a 12-1-1 mark (.857 win%) in those contests, and their 12 wins are tied for fourth in the league
* Henrik Lundqvist is 9-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA, .933 Sv% and one shutout in his last 12 games
* Michael Del Zotto enters the contest with a three-game assist streak (four assists over the span), and has tallied seven assists in the last seven games
* Brad Richards has tallied 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in the last 18 games, with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last eight
* Derek Stepan has tallied 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in the last 18 contests, with five points (one goal, four assists) in the last five
* Artem Anisimov has tallied 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in the last 15 games, with five points (three goals, two assists) in the last five
* Marian Gaborik has tallied 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in the last 19 games, with six points (four goals, two assists) in the last six
* Ryan Callahan has tallied 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in the last 18 games, with nine points (four goals, five assists) in the last eight
* Carl Hagelin has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in eight career games
* Ryan McDonagh has tallied six points (one goal, five assists) in the last nine games
* Rangers' prospects Christian Thomas (Canada) and J.T. Miller (USA) have been invited to participate in their respective National Junior Team's selection camp for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship

* Marian Gaborik: 3 assists from 300th NHL career; 3 goals from 300th NHL career; 6 points from 600th NHL career
* Dan Girardi: 4 assists from 100th NHL career
* Brad Richards: 2 games from 800th NHL career
* Michael Sauer: 2 games from 100th NHL career

* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 26
* Mike Rupp (knee, 10/24) - 19
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 15
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) - 2
Total Man-Games Lost: 71

* Dec. 1 - Assigned forward Andre Deveaux to Connecticut (AHL)