SUNRISE (CBSMiamiAP) – A couple of teams playing very good hockey will hook up on the final day of 2014.
After the New York Rangers had their longest win streak in 40 years snapped, a matchup against the Florida Panthers may be just what they need.
The Rangers will try to continue their success against Florida and earn their second straight New Year’s Eve victory over the Panthers on Wednesday night.
New York (19-11-4) had won eight in a row, including four on the road, before the streak was halted with a 3-2 loss at Dallas on Monday.
“It doesn’t matter how many games you win. When you lose, you’re disappointed,” Henrik Lundqvist said. “You have an opportunity to get another win, to get more points.”
The Rangers haven’t had much issue doing that against the Panthers (16-9-9), winning seven of nine meetings while outscoring them 32-17. New York won for the third time in four tries at Florida last New Year’s Eve, when Lundqvist made 21 saves and turned aside all three shootout attempts in a 2-1 victory.
He has a 1.62 goals-against average while winning six of his last eight matchups with the Panthers. He’s also 9-3-1 with a 1.72 GAA in 13 career visits to BB&T Center.
It’s unclear if Lundqvist will be back in net after making 24 saves against the Stars, ending his seven-game winning streak that included a 1.54 GAA and tied a career best.
Backup Cam Talbot could face the Panthers for the first time and won his only start over the past nine games by making 18 stops in a 1-0 win over Carolina on Dec. 21. It was his third shutout in four games, and he’s gone 3-1-0 with a 0.76 GAA over that stretch.
Rick Nash has seven points in his last six meetings with Florida, including an assist on Dan Girardi’s goal with 2:10 left in regulation in the most recent. The left wing is second in the league with 23 goals, two back of the Stars’ Tyler Seguin.
Since recording a hat trick in a 4-2 win over Washington on Dec. 23, Rich Nash has been held without a point in two games after failing to score on four shots in Dallas.
Mats Zuccarello has nine points in nine games after getting his seventh assist in that span on a goal by J.T. Miller on Monday. That was also Zuccarello’s 112th career point, passing Espen Knutsen for the most by a Norwegian in the NHL. He may begin pulling away since he has four goals and five assists in nine career meetings with Florida.
The Panthers are piling up points during a 5-1-2 stretch, getting another despite missing all three shootout attempts in a 2-1 loss to Montreal on Tuesday.
“It’s good to get that point, but a little disappointing,” said Nick Bjugstad, who missed his attempt in the tiebreaker after tying the game with 1:49 to play in regulation.
Bjugstad’s 13 goals and 21 points lead the team, and he has two points in two games after enduring a season high-tying five-game drought. The center also failed to get one against the Rangers last Dec. 31.
Roberto Luongo could start on back-to-back nights for the first time this season after making 33 saves and stopping two of three shootout attempts Tuesday. However, he’s surrendered seven goals on 29 shots while losing his last two against the Rangers. He was pulled 17 seconds into the second period of a 5-2 loss with Vancouver on Nov. 30, 2013.
Backup Al Montoya is 1-2-0 with a 3.92 GAA against New York, which drafted him sixth overall in 2004.
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