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The New York Rangers started November slowly, but they now seem to be gaining a head of steam.
The Atlantic Division-leading Rangers look for their third straight win on Monday when they host the Ottawa Senators, who try to avoid their first five-game losing streak in nearly a year.
New York (13-5-2) rallied for two goals in the closing minutes of Saturday's third period against Boston to force overtime. Nigel Dawes brought the Rangers within a goal with 6:05 to play and Markus Naslund tied it with 52.9 seconds remaining in regulation. After a scoreless overtime, captain Chris Drury scored the lone goal in the shootout to give New York a 3-2 victory.
"It shows a lot of character," said Drury, who has five goals and one assist in his last five games.
It was the second straight win for New York after a 1-3-1 start to November. The Rangers, who went 10-2-1 in October, own a four-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic.
"We haven't gotten the starts we wanted in a few games, but we have been able to at least get one point in many of them and sometimes even two," said Naslund, who has four goals and two assists in his last seven home games.
New York is 8-3-1 at Madison Square Garden this season, but has lost five straight home games to the Senators since a 5-1 victory on Feb. 8, 2006, and has dropped 15 of its last 20 games to Ottawa overall.
Bucking those trends may be easier with the Senators (6-9-2) struggling.
Ottawa suffered its fourth straight loss Saturday, falling 3-2 to the New York Islanders to complete a home-and-home sweep.
The Senators, who also dropped four straight games Oct. 18-25, have not lost five in a row since a seven-game skid from Nov. 21-Dec. 4 last season.
An inability to score has been Ottawa's biggest problem. The Senators have scored the third-fewest goals in the league (41), and have managed only four goals during their losing streak.
"We didn't score on our chances," captain Daniel Alfredsson said after Saturday's defeat. "We have to find a way to score goals."
Ottawa is 3-for-28 on the power play chances in its last six games, while the Rangers have successfully killed 21 of 23 penalties this month.
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 shots Saturday, improving to 3-1-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average in his last five decisions. Lundqvist was in net for all four games against Ottawa last season, going 1-3-0 with a 2.54 GAA.
Ottawa goalie Alex Auld made 28 saves Saturday but suffered his third straight loss. His GAA in that span is a lofty 3.40. However, he is 1-0-1 with a 0.96 GAA with a shutout in two career games against the Rangers.
Senators backup goalie Martin Gerber has also enjoyed success versus New York, going 7-2-0 with a 1.81 GAA and one shutout.
|Mar 22 '09||OTT 2 at NYR 1||R. Shannon|
|Jan 10 '09||NYR 2 at OTT 0||B. Dubinsky|
|Nov 22 '08||NYR 1 at OTT 4||J. Winchester|
|Nov 17 '08||OTT 1 at NYR 2 - SO||N. Zherdev|