Two teams coming off shutout losses get a chance to bounce back Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers will try to cure their offensive woes against the defensively challenged Thrashers.
New York (29-18-4) was 25th in the NHL in goals last season, scoring 2.5 per game, and that average has dropped to 2.43 in 2008-09 with three of its top five goal-scorers from a year ago gone.
The Rangers scored two goals or fewer seven times in 11 games in January, including their last two games of the month. A third-period defensive breakdown was the main culprit in a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, then New York couldn't get any of its 35 shots -- nine from captain Chris Drury -- past Boston's Tuukka Rask on Saturday, falling 1-0.
Fifteen of the Rangers' shots came in the final 20 minutes, after the Bruins' Marc Savard scored the game's lone goal with 23 seconds to play in the second period.
"It was a fairly tight game for two periods," said Drury, whose 15 goals are tied with Markus Naslund for the team lead. "When they scored, we opened things up and that's the way we have to play."
Drury doesn't have a point in his last five games as New York has managed nine goals. Perhaps Drury and his teammates will be inspired by the presence of Adam Graves, the long-time Rangers winger whose No. 9 will be raised to the MSG rafters prior to Tuesday's game.
Graves scored 52 goals in the 1993-94 regular season -- a Rangers record -- and 10 more in the playoffs while helping New York win its first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
Graves' record was broken in 2005-06, when Jaromir Jagr scored 54 goals.
No one is on pace to even score 25 this season, but the Rangers may find goals easier to come by against Atlanta. The Thrashers (17-29-5) have yielded 3.55 goals per game this season, the worst average in the league.
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen played a strong game Saturday at Carolina, but that wasn't nearly enough to help Atlanta pick up a win. The Hurricanes scored twice during a 21-shot barrage in the opening period, then held on over the final 40 minutes to win 2-0 and hand the Thrashers their fourth straight loss.
"It seemed pretty easy for them. They had all the energy," Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey said. "We had a couple of shots, but they weren't really dangerous. That's pretty much the story."
The loss marked the fifth time the Thrashers had been shut out, tied for the most in the East with Ottawa and the Rangers.
Atlanta's forwards probably won't be able to find any positives memories if goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is on the ice for New York, either. Dating to the Rangers' four-game sweep in their 2007 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Lundqvist is 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last eight starts against the Thrashers.
He made 27 saves in New York's 3-2 home win over Atlanta on Oct. 30. Backup Stephen Valiquette stopped 27 shots in the Rangers' 3-2 overtime victory at Philips Arena on Dec. 10.