|Rangers return home, looking to keep Preds down|
Last week, the New York Rangers began a four-game West Coast swing with four points in three games, inciting aspirations of a six-point trip. They came close but ended the trip with one point in a 4-3 shootout loss in Anaheim on Saturday.
After a fairly successful trip, the Rangers return home Monday night to face the Nashville Predators, who are coming off one of their worst showings of the season.
"We wanted six points, but I guess taking five isn't a bad trip," Rangers coach David Quinn told reporters after his club won 5-0 in Vegas, lost 3-1 in Los Angeles and won 6-3 in San Jose before the finale against the Ducks. "You can't do what everybody else is doing if you want to do something special."
Saturday's loss -- a game in which the Rangers led 2-0 and 3-2 before giving up the tying goal with 1:42 left in regulation -- continued a trend of alternating wins and losses for the Rangers. They are 4-3-2 in their last nine games since going 9-4-1 from Oct. 29 to Nov. 27.
The uneven play for New York is coming at a time when Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are consistently producing points.
Panarin scored New York's second goal Saturday to give him six goals and eight points on the trip, giving him 15 goals and 36 points in his last 25 games. Zibanejad scored twice Saturday, including 10 seconds into the game, and has seven goals and 10 points since returning after missing a month with an upper-body injury on Nov. 27.
The Predators head to New York coming off a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday that saw them get booed off the ice by their home crowd. Nashville allowed all four goals in a span of 11:23, including a short-handed goal on a breakaway, and lost its second straight game despite outshooting Dallas by a wide 38-22 margin.
"The mistakes we're making, they're costing us," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They're too big. We need to quiet the game down defensively just from a quality (shots allowed) standpoint, not a quantity standpoint."
Nashville heads into a four-game trip in a slump that has lasted for more than a month. Since getting off to an 8-3-1 start following a 3-0 win over Chicago on Oct. 29, the Predators are 6-9-4 in their last 19 contests.
"It's been a rough go for too long," Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "Another tough loss, especially at home. By the end of the game, there was probably half the people left in the arena and it makes me embarrassed by the results at home."
Austin Watson scored for Nashville on Saturday, but others continued struggling to get goals of late.
Filip Forsberg has two goals in his last 13 games since scoring in four straight games from Nov. 4-12. Defenseman Roman Josi leads the Predators with 26 points but has not had a goal in his last 12 games and has two goals in his last 20.
The Rangers are 7-3-0 in the past 10 meetings between these two, posting a 2-1 victory in Nashville on Nov. 2 when backup Alexandar Georgiev made 32 saves.
--Field Level Media