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Thanks in part to a clutch effort from their prized free-agent signing, the New York Rangers find themselves on the verge of their longest winning streak in nearly 37 years.
Seeking an eighth consecutive victory, New York looks to overcome its recent road woes against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Since winning just three of their first nine games, the Rangers have taken seven straight while outscoring opponents 26-11. New York (10-3-3) hasn't won eight in a row since Dec. 27-Jan. 11, 1975.
While the Rangers have killed all but two of their opponents' 20 power-play opportunities during the run, center Brad Richards has sparked the offense.
Richards, who agreed to a nine-year, $60 million contract in the offseason, has three goals and two assists during the winning stretch. He scored the go-ahead goal with 4:55 remaining before captain Ryan Callahan added an empty-netter in a 4-2 road win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
"We signed (Richards) for nine years. That's exactly why we signed him," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 31 saves. "A guy like that, he has a tendency to step up at the right time. His focus is good when it comes down to the final minutes, when you need that extra play. It's great to see."
Lundqvist has also been instrumental during the run, going 5-0-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average. Callahan and fellow forward Marian Gaborik have combined for nine goals and six assists in the seven games.
Callahan, who has just one goal in eight career visits to Montreal, and the rest of the Rangers' offense will surely be hoping for their momentum to carry over into Saturday. New York has been outscored 30-16 during a 1-4-2 stretch at the Bell Centre, with Lundqvist posting a 4.62 GAA in starting six of those games.
Lundqvist, though, made 25 saves in a 5-3 home victory over the Canadiens on Nov. 5. He's 4-1-0 with a 1.64 GAA and one shutout over his last five road games.
Despite another excellent effort against the power play, Montreal (8-8-3) fell 4-3 on the road to the Islanders on Thursday. After a scoreless first period, the Canadiens were outscored 4-2 over the next 20 minutes.
While Montreal has killed all 21 of its opponents' power-play chances over the last six games, left wing Max Pacioretty knows the team needs to pick up the pace offensively.
"When I have a chance to score a goal, my confidence is there," said Pacioretty, who scored his team-best ninth goal Thursday. "At the end of the day you wish you could have done more to help your team. We came out flat-footed in the first.
"You have to play a full 60 minutes. We just got away from our game. You don't like to see it happen, but it did."
Peter Budaj turned away 29 of 33 shots while spelling Carey Price, who could be back in goal Saturday. Price has gone 6-2-1 with a 1.65 GAA over his last nine games, including Wednesday's 25-save shutout versus Carolina.
Price is 3-0-1 with a 1.72 GAA over his last four home meetings against the Rangers.
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