While a three-game winning streak has proven somewhat elusive for the New York Rangers this season, they are starting to consistently win on home ice.
The Rangers try to win a third straight game for the second time this season and attempt to extend their home winning streak to six games Sunday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
New York's other three-game winning streak occurred Nov. 23-27, when it won a wild 6-5 game in Montreal and then posted one-goal home wins over Minnesota and Carolina. Since then, the Rangers are 0-2 in their chances at three straight wins, thanks to a 7-5 loss in Edmonton on Dec. 31 and a 5-2 setback Jan. 11 in St. Louis.
The Rangers get their chance at winning a third straight game while on their best run of the season at home.
During its five-game winning streak, New York is outscoring foes by a 27-12 margin and has scored at least five goals in five straight home games for the first time since Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, 2016.
New York heads into Sunday coming off a home-and-home sweep of the rival New York Islanders in two distinctly different games.
The Rangers dominated after allowing an early goal in last Monday's 6-2 home win, and then withstood a 22-shot barrage in the first period and got a late power-play goal from Chris Kreider in Thursday's 3-2 victory on Long Island.
"As the season's going, we've started to do a lot of the little things that have given us opportunities to win games and be in games," Kreider said. "We've had a stretch here where we've definitely done a better job of that."
Thursday was a rare quiet game from former Blue Jackets star Artemi Panarin. Panarin tied a career high with five points (two goals and three assists) Monday but was held without a point for only the 10th time this season.
Panarin has 68 points in his first season as a Ranger, and during the home winning streak, he has five goals and 10 assists. He also is dealing with a minor upper-body injury that limited him in practice Saturday but is expected to play Sunday.
Also expected to play is rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who will make his third career start. Alexandar Georgiev started both games against the Islanders.
Columbus is on its second four-game winning streak of the season, and a win Sunday will match its longest streak of the season. The Blue Jackets won five in a row Dec. 16-23 and split their next eight games before starting this streak with a 3-0 win at the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 11.
Columbus is outscoring foes 14-2 during the streak and kept it going with a 5-0 home win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in a game that did not necessarily please coach John Tortorella despite the lopsided result.
Cam Atkinson scored twice and added an assist in his second game back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for nearly a month as Columbus scored four times in the second period.
"We have the past couple of games have forgotten how we have to play," Tortorella said. "I just think they have forgotten the foundation of how hard we have to play and have not played hard enough the past couple of games."
Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 41 saves Saturday, marking his third shutout in a four-game span. He has started every game of this streak and could start again Sunday.
--Field Level Media