Coach John Tortorella is happy, and the New York Rangers are giving him plenty of reasons to stay that way.
Recent meetings with Tortorella’s former team haven’t been as merry for New York.
The red-hot Rangers look to extend their winning streak to five games Saturday night when they visit the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning.
Winning 11 of 13 has put New York (14-5-3) among the top teams in the NHL with 31 points, and the demanding and volatile Tortorella is pleased.
“I’m happy with the club because they’re playing really well right now as a team,” Tortorella said. “I think that’s the way we can try to sustain this.”
The Rangers maintained their significant momentum with Thursday’s 5-3 win at Carolina following impressive victories over Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington.
New York’s latest win included at least one point from 14 different players, while five Rangers found the net.
“You can’t count on two or three guys, or even one line, to carry you every night and have success,” first-year captain Ryan Callahan(notes) told the team’s official website. “You’re too easy to shut down. But here everyone is contributing right through the lineup. That’s what you need to have success in this league, contributions throughout the lineup, and it breeds confidence.”
Tortorella said Callahan has played a large role in New York’s emergence - even beyond his 10 goals and seven assists.
“It starts with our leadership,” Tortorella said. “If you look at Ryan Callahan, who is wearing the C, he does all of that stuff. I think it just grows within the team. When you’re winning as we are now, people just buy into it.”
The Rangers’ power play is also making a difference, going 5 for 17 in the past four games. The team is 10-0-1 when scoring at least once on the man advantage, including Thursday’s win after Callahan scored on the power play for a second consecutive game.
Marian Gaborik(notes), the team leader with 12 goals and 21 points, has three goals and two assists during the winning streak. The star right wing has seven goals and six assists in 11 career games against Tampa Bay (11-11-2).
New York, though, lost all four meetings with the Lightning last season, and has dropped three of its past four visits to Tampa Bay.
Lundqvist has won eight of his last nine starts behind a 1.88 GAA and a shutout.
Tampa Bay is 7-3-0 at home, but it has dropped six of nine overall after falling 4-2 at Detroit on Wednesday, giving up two goals in the final period.
Despite the Lightning’s recent struggles, Stamkos is on a five-game point streak, during which he’s netted five goals with two assists. He’s among the NHL leaders with 16 goals and 26 points, and has four goals and five assists in the past eight meetings with the Rangers.
Martin St. Louis(notes), who has seven goals and 13 assists, has two goals in his last three games after finding the net Wednesday. The right wing has 17 points in his last 14 meetings with New York, including six last season.