The New York Rangers ended their power-play slump Friday. Now they’ll try to make success a trend Saturday night when they travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Mika Zibanejad scored twice Friday for New York in man-advantage situations during a 5-3 victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes as the Rangers ended a five-game, power-play drought.
The Rangers had not scored on the power play since Dec. 12 against the San Jose Sharks, failing on their next 18 chances with the man advantage. New York was 2-for-4 on the power play Friday.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, survived a sloppy performance Friday night to defeat the host New Jersey Devils 5-4 in overtime and extend their winning streak to six games.
William Nylander was given credit for the winning goal that was put into the net by a New Jersey’s Damon Severson 2:38 into OT. Toronto is 12-4-0 under new coach Sheldon Keefe.
The Rangers were 9-4-1 from Oct. 29-Nov. 27 but are 6-6-2 in their past 14 games. The return of the power play would be a big help for New York’s push for a playoff spot.
“Power plays can be very streaky,” Rangers coach David Quinn told reporters Friday before the game against the Hurricanes. “Sometimes you’re scoring when you’re not doing a lot of things right, but it find its way into the net. But sometimes when you’re doing things the right way, it doesn’t find its way into the net.
“We did have chances (on Monday in a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers). We had 11 scoring chances on the power play, so it wasn’t that inept. But at the end of the day, you have to produce and score goals, and we haven’t done it.”
Quinn made a minor adjustment to the power play, adding Ryan Strome to the top unit of Artemi Panarin, Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Tony DeAngelo.
“(Strome is) very intelligent,” Quinn said. “He knows when to shoot, he knows when to pass. I like his decision-making process.”
The Maple Leafs have been winning despite loose defensive play. They defeated the Hurricanes 8-6 on Monday, then gave up four more goals on Friday.
Keefe told reporters following the Friday win, “Not a lot to like about our game today, obviously, but you know, it’s Dec. 27 here, and we got two points on the road. So, we’ll take it and get on the plane and recognize that we’ve got to get a lot better (Saturday).”
Toronto left winger Ilya Mikheyev, who scored a first-period goal, left the game in New Jersey and was taken to hospital with what was termed by the team as “a significant laceration” on his wrist.
“He’s got a deep cut and we’re just going to have to get it sorted out,” Keefe said. “He’s going to stay here in New Jersey tonight and get evaluated.”
Michael Hutchinson stopped 24 shots for the Maple Leafs on Friday, so Frederik Andersen is expected to start Saturday.
The NHL resumed its schedule Friday after a three-day holiday break.
“When players have a few days off, and us having to travel the same day, sometimes it takes a little bit for the players to get into the game and get back into good habits and stuff,” Hutchinson said.
Henrik Lundqvist made 39 saves for the Rangers on Friday. Alexandar Georgiev likely will start Saturday.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Rangers in New York 6-3 on Dec. 20.
–Field Level Media