If the New York Rangers are going to pull themselves out of the hole they’ve created for themselves early on in the 2017-18 season, they’ll have to string a couple of wins together.
They’ll get an opportunity to create their first winning streak of the year when they square off against the San Jose Sharks tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:00, MSG).
The Rangers (2-5-2) are coming off a Saturday afternoon victory against another elite Western Conference team, taking down defending conference champion Nashville 4-2. Kevin Hayes provided the game winner, his third goal of the season, while Jesper Fast, Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey each put in their first. Henrik Lundqvist, who shut out a Nashville rally with nine third period saves, earned his 407th victory, tying Glenn Hall for ninth on the all-time list. Expected to start tonight, Lundqvist can pass Hall and start the trek to Tony Esposito in eighth (423).
San Jose (3-4-0) is like wise a team struggling in the early going after entering the year with high hopes. They’re in the midst of a five game East Coast tour, splitting a weekend pair against the Devils and Islanders. While Martin Jones’s 28 saves keyed a 3-0 win over New Jersey on Friday, a Logan Couture hat trick couldn’t stop a strong Islander offensive performance on Saturday, as they fell 5-3 at Barclay Center. San Jose will visit Boston and Buffalo later this week before heading home.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Rangers and Sharks, with the teams slated to meet again on January 25 in San Jose. The two teams split their annual set last season, with each winning on their own home ice. The Rangers won 7-4 at MSG on October 17, overcoming a four-point night by Joe Pavelski to earn the win. Mats Zuccarello (1 goal, 2 assists) led the way with three points, while Kreider and Ryan McDonagh had two points each. The Sharks won the rematch in March, a 5-4 overtime victory.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490