A sudden goal drought has the New York Rangers on the verge of matching their longest losing streak of the season. A matchup with a struggling Phoenix Coyotes team might be just what they need to rejuvenate their offense and regain their winning ways.
Looking to avoid a third straight defeat, the Rangers continue their road trip as they face the Coyotes in the teams' first meeting of the season Saturday night.
New York (17-8-4) had won two in a row and went 7-1-1 in nine games leading up to Tuesday's home matchup with Dallas. The Rangers scored 31 goals in those seven victories -- including six in a rout of Florida on Sunday.
They couldn't maintain their momentum, though, falling 1-0 to the Stars and losing 4-1 at St. Louis on Thursday in a contest that snapped their four-game road win streak.
New York's only three-game skid of the season came in their first three contests Oct. 7-15 -- the first two of which were played in Sweden -- when they went 0-1-2.
The Rangers trailed 2-0 at the 11:03 mark of the first period against the Blues.
"Obviously it was too much too early, and the rest of the game, we only had spurts," center Brad Richards said.
The Rangers didn't earn a power play Thursday for the first time since April 9, their 2010-11 regular-season finale. They were 0 for 4 with the man advantage against the Stars after going 10 for 37 over the previous nine games.
"We just gotta keep working," captain Ryan Callahan said after assisting on Michael Del Zotto's goal against St. Louis. "You go through stretches where you're not scoring goals and you don't look at what's happening, you gotta realize why we're not getting opportunities ... I think it just comes down to a compete level and getting pucks to the net and being able to sacrifice yourself to get to that dirty area."
Phoenix (16-12-3) hadn't been doing much better than New York offensively before beating Edmonton 4-2 on Thursday. Prior to that victory, the Coyotes had dropped a season-high three straight, getting outscored 13-4.
The poor defense forced coach Dave Tippett to try shaking things up by making top-pair defenseman Derek Morris, who is minus-9 on the season, a healthy scratch against the Oilers.
Phoenix seemed to get the message, limiting Edmonton to 18 shots. Radim Vrbata scored less than a minute after linemate Martin Hanzal had a goal waved off in the second period and Phoenix added two more in the third.
"Losing three straight, that's enough," Vrbata said. " ... now we have to focus on Saturday."
Phoenix also avoided a third straight defeat at home, where they had dropped three of four while totaling three goals in the defeats.
The Rangers, who complete this three-game road stretch Tuesday at New Jersey, have won six of the last eight meetings with the Coyotes. They failed to take their third straight road game in the series Jan. 30, falling 3-2.
Right wing Marian Gaborik scored in that contest and has recorded 11 goals and three assists in his last 11 contests against Phoenix, dating to his time with Minnesota.
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