Balanced scoring has been a major issue for the New York Rangers this season. Now, no one is finding the back of the net, and they're on the verge of matching their longest goal drought in more than 10 years.
The Rangers will try to provide some scoring support for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Saturday night when they visit the St. Louis Blues, who've been very stingy of late.
New York (22-18-7) was among the lowest scoring teams over the last two seasons, while Lundqvist was one of the best goalies in the NHL with a 2.33 goals-against average and 13 shutouts. That prompted the Rangers to add high-scoring Marian Gaborik via free agency last summer.
While Gaborik ranks among the NHL leaders with 28 goals and 54 points, the rest of the Rangers have struggled. Ryan Callahan is second on the club with 10 goals, and its total of 120 rank towards the bottom of the league.
Not even Gaborik has managed to score over the last two games as New York fell 2-0 to Ottawa on Thursday, two nights after a 1-0 shootout loss to New Jersey. The Rangers wasted two superb performances from Lundqvist, who stopped 32 shots against the Senators after making 45 saves through overtime only to be outplayed by the Devils' Martin Brodeur, who had 51 stops.
Lundqvist likely will start Saturday, and is 4-1-2 with a 1.26 GAA and a shutout in his last seven games. The Rangers have supported him with 14 goals, while getting four in the last four contests overall (1-1-2).
"Four goals in four games is obviously not enough," said Lundqvist, who has allowed two goals or fewer in 16 of 19 games and lost in his only career appearance against the Blues on Feb. 16. "We're not going to win games if we can't score."
The Rangers haven't been blanked in three consecutive games since Oct. 20-24, 1999, and their current drought stands at 144 minutes, 23 seconds since Erik Christensen scored in the third period of last Saturday's 3-1 win at Boston.
Gaborik has been a major part of the scoring funk. He's failed to record a goal in a season-high four straight games, and has just two goals with three assists in his last 10.
Gaborik has nine goals and 13 assists in his last 15 games against St. Louis, all coming with the Wild.
While New York is struggling to score, the Blues (20-19-7) seek a season-high four-game winning streak with a new face behind the bench.
St. Louis owns the worst home record in the NHL at 8-14-3, but are in position to sweep a three-game homestand under interim coach Davis Payne, who replaced the fired Andy Murray earlier this month.
That sudden success at the Scottrade Center has been aided by Chris Mason, who has stopped 45 of 46 shots over the last two games and has won three straight games with a 1.34 GAA.
Mason made 19 saves for his first shutout this season and T.J. Oshie scored 26 seconds into the third period of a 1-0 win over Minnesota on Thursday.
"A shutout, it goes on my stats, but it's definitely a team statistic in my opinion," said Mason, who beat Lundqvist and the Rangers 2-1 last season in St. Louis. "The guys did a great job. I wouldn't have gotten this without the great play of our team."
Mason's superb play during the winning streak came after going 0-3-2 with a 3.37 GAA in the previous five contests.