Even though they're struggling in the first period, the Ottawa Senators have been finishing strong lately.
The New York Rangers failed to do so in their long-awaited home opener, and it looks like they will make some changes to try to get better results.
The Senators look to win five straight for the first time in two seasons Saturday when they go for their fourth consecutive victory at Madison Square Garden.
Outscored 16-3 in the first period this season, Ottawa (5-5-0) has scored just once in the opening 20 minutes during its winning streak. The Senators, though, have come through in the clutch during this run, scoring twice in the final 36 seconds of last Saturday's 4-3 win over Columbus and Nick Foligno finding the back of the net with 2.5 seconds remaining Thursday to give the club a 4-3 victory versus Florida.
"We're believing in ourselves a little more and we're believing in the game plan," center Jason Spezza, who has four goals and five assists during a five-game point streak, told the Senators' official website. "And I think you have to win a few games to have the confidence to stick to it and not veer away from what you've been doing."
Ottawa leads the NHL with 17 third-period goals.
The Senators shouldn't change how they've performed at Madison Square Garden. The club, which last won five in a row during a six-game run from March 22-April 1, 2010, has outscored the Rangers 72-50 while winning 19 of 25 visiting New York.
That doesn't bode well for a Rangers club among the NHL's worst on the power play (3-for-31) and in scoring with 2.0 goals per game.
Coming off a three-country, two-continent, seven-game road trip as MSG was undergoing the first summer of a three-part renovation project, New York (3-3-2) failed in all three power-play chances during a 4-2 home-opening loss to Toronto on Thursday when Henrik Lundqvist surrendered three third-period goals.
Marian Gaborik's assist on Dan Girardi's first-period goal is the only point Gaborik and newcomer Brad Richards have scored in the last three games.
"It would be great if we came in here and clicked perfectly, but realistically we have some work to do," Richards said. "We've got to get to know each other on the ice. We're both used to having the puck, and that's a work in progress for sure."
Splitting the two might be the best option. Richards skated with captain Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky during Friday's practice, and Gaborik was on a line with center Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski.
"These are decisions we have to make every day, and we're in the process of doing that right now," coach John Tortorella told the Rangers' official website. "I have changed lines quite a bit. I know the team needs to get into a routine, and we can't keep changing lines. But you can't get stuck on one situation, you have to worry about the whole team."
The Rangers should be concerned about facing Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who has turned away 107 of 116 shots while starting each time during the team's winning streak.
Anderson is 5-2-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average in eight starts versus New York.
Lundqvist has a 2.17 GAA in 11 home starts against Ottawa, but he is just 3-7-1 in those contests.
The road team has won seven straight in this matchup.