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Though the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators are two of the lowest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference, both have had little trouble finding the back of the net recently.
The difference is the Rangers will probably will be making the playoffs.
New York looks to win four straight for the first time since the opening month of the season as they host the Senators on Sunday night.
The Rangers (38-26-8) continued their run Saturday, using a three-goal second period to beat Buffalo 5-3. New York is the second-lowest scoring team in the East with 186 goals, but has tallied four or more in seven of its last nine games.
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That 7-2-0 surge has helped push the Rangers into seventh place in the East - one point behind sixth-place Carolina - and four ahead of ninth-place Florida with 10 games remaining. New York hasn't had a four-game winning streak since Oct. 24-30.
"We are playing a little bit better than we did before, but the biggest difference now is that we are finding the net," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 37 saves for his 33rd victory. "It is a big relief. We find ways to score and you get confidence from it."
Ryan Callahan, who celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring twice, has stepped up as the Rangers seek their fourth straight postseason appearance. He has six goals and three assists in New York's last nine games after recording just one goal and four assists over the previous 13 contests, in which the Rangers went 2-7-4.
"He's a guy I can use in all aspects of the game, times of the game and situational plays," coach John Tortorella said of Callahan, who needs one goal to reach 20 for the first time in his career.
Callahan, though, has failed to register a point in seven career games against Ottawa.
While the Senators have been just as hot as New York, their recent run may not be enough to get them into the playoffs for the 12th straight season.
With a 5-2 victory over the Islanders on Saturday, Ottawa has won four straight and eight of nine and are a game above .500 for the first time since Nov. 6. Still, the Senators (31-30-10) are 12th in the East - nine points behind eighth-place Montreal.
"It's nice to do it now instead of not at all, I guess," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had three assists. "We don't always play great but we've been sticking out and finding a way. We're making more of our chances."
Alfredsson has five goals and 10 assists in Ottawa's last nine games. The Senators, who are 11th in the conference with 191 goals, have averaged 3.88 during that stretch.
"We're like a different team," center Mike Fisher said. "We're playing with more energy and having more fun playing as a team and that's the way we should have been playing all year. We've been competing in all areas of the ice, been getting good goaltending and getting more goals."
The Senators have scored outscored the Rangers 5-4 this season while posting a 1-1-1 record. New York beat Ottawa 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 17 in the only game at Madison Square Garden.
|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|