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NEW YORK -- The wins weren't all pretty and they weren't all complete 60-minute efforts, but the New York Rangers rattled off their fourth in a row, blanking the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 Sunday to cap a crucial six-game homestand.
In doing so, the Rangers are beginning to turn their fortune at home, where they finished 27th in the league with a bleak 20-17-4 record last season.
The 4-1-1 homestand marks the team's best start through six games at Madison Square Garden in almost two decades. Not since the 1992-93 season (5-0-1) has a team fared better during that span.
|After shutting out Winnipeg, Martin Biron received kudos from regular starter Henrik Lundqvist.|
The strong stretch has buoyed a resurgent Rangers squad that was saddled with two grueling road trips -- one to Europe and another to Western Canada -- to begin the season.
"We're playing that style at home, making it a tough building to come into. And if we keep grinding teams, we'll have success here," captain Ryan Callahan said. "I think it's really important for us, after getting a lot of points on the road, after a tough road trip, to back them up with wins at home."
Of the four wins that boosted the Rangers to 7-3-3 on the season, the team's 5-2 win over San Jose on Monday was the most resounding. But the Rangers found ways to win in the remaining three: an unlikely shootout winner from Marian Gaborik against Anaheim, a key goal from Brad Richards to power the team past Montreal and a 23-save shutout from backup goaltender Martin Biron on Sunday against Winnipeg.
"Showed some resilience, some battle, some heart," Biron said after securing his 27th career shutout. "When you go on the road for that long and then come back home, sometimes there's a letdown, a feeling of 'OK, we're home, things are going to be a lot easier.' There were not feelings like that."
Before the team's second meeting with the Jets, coach John Tortorella talked about the importance of such a game -- the last of a six-game homestand played on the tail end of a back-to-back set.
These could be huge points come March and April, Tortorella said, concerned about a potential mental letdown.
"I just want us to play the right way," he said. "These are the games that get you in later in the year."
With Sunday's win, the Rangers pulled within a point of the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Division and passed Buffalo for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
More importantly, they head to Ottawa Wednesday riding an impressive streak.
"It's a good homestand at 4-1-1. ... You need to try to establish yourself at home," Tortorella said, "and I think this is a start for us."