John Tortorella wasn’t happy with the New York Rangers’ latest effort, and isn’t pleased with their struggling power play.
The coach may be able to find some solace in his club’s success on the road.
The Rangers attempt to match their longest road winning streak of the season when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
New York (27-10-4) has won 10 of 12 overall and remains atop the Eastern Conference, but Tortorella wasn’t pleased after Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Ottawa, which ended a five-game winning streak.
“I think this team takes pride in trying no matter what happens,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think the try was there in a number of people. I’m not going to name them. I just don’t think there was.
“Effort is something that can be controlled every day. That’s what we trust in our team, and I still do. We’ve got a good team here, and I think they’ll answer the proper way, but we’re not going to take any nights off.”
The Rangers’ power play has gone 1 for 20 over the last eight games, dropping its overall success rate for the season to a lackluster 14.8 percent.
“We’ve been fortunate, but it’s going to bite us in the (behind) if we don’t - at least - try to gain some momentum off of it,” Tortorella said.
Marian Gaborik, one of three Rangers named to the All-Star team, has a team-leading 23 goals but couldn’t muster a shot against the Senators. The right wing has one goal in his last seven games overall and none in his last four on the road. He also has failed to score in his last five visits to Toronto (22-16-5).
However, Gaborik’s road struggles haven’t seem to hurt his team. New York has won nine of its last 11 away from home, including an active three-game winning streak.
The Rangers also won both of their games at Air Canada Centre last season and are 3-0-2 in their last five trips to Toronto.
It’s unclear if the Rangers will have Brandon Dubinsky back from a sore right shoulder that caused him to miss Thursday’s defeat. The center has three goals and two assists in his last four road games.
Toronto fell behind by two goals in the opening 3:53 Friday at Buffalo, ultimately losing 3-2 to end a four-game winning streak.
“We didn’t have much puck luck,” coach Ron Wilson said. “We didn’t get enough shots from the middle of the rink to scramble them up. And that’s something that let us down. But all in all, I thought we played well.”
A five-game homestand may be just what the Maple Leafs need to regain their momentum. They’ve won five in a row there, and another victory would mean their longest home streak since a nine-game run March 6-April 7, 2007.
Mikhail Grabovski has six goals and five assists in his last nine games, including one of each Friday. However, he has no goals and five assists in 14 career meetings with the Rangers.
Phil Kessel, one of three Maple Leafs All-Stars and Toronto’s leader with 24 goals and 48 points, is trying to avoid his first three-game drought without a point since March. It might not be easy, as he has failed to register a point in his last three home games versus New York.
The Leafs have defeated the Rangers twice at Madison Square Garden in 2011-12 by identical 4-2 scores, most recently Dec. 5.