An offensive outburst helped the New York Rangers end a punchless three-game slide. They'll try to build on that and continue finding the net regularly Tuesday night when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.
New York (23-19-7) is among the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL with 2.55 goals per game. That's been a recurring theme for the club as it managed 2.47 goals per game over the previous two seasons, ranking better than only the New York Islanders' 2.36 in that span.
The Rangers' scoring problems were evident as they were outscored 7-1 during a three-game losing streak last week. But New York snapped that skid in a big way Sunday, beating Montreal 6-2 while topping their production over the previous five games combined. It was the Rangers' most lopsided victory since a 7-2 win over Toronto on Oct. 12.
"I'm not going to say we've been frustrated because I've said all along I think we're capable of scoring and playing well," said center Brandon Dubinsky, who had two goals and one assist against the Canadiens after totaling one and two, respectively, in the previous six contests.
"We just had to stick with it and hope that it was going to break out. ... Hopefully, we can keep it going and keep putting the puck in the back of the net."
Callahan's four points against the Canadiens matched his career high set Dec. 17. However, the right wing had only one goal and five assists in the following 14 games leading up to Sunday.
"He ignited us," coach John Tortorella said of Callahan's performance Sunday. "He did a lot of good things."
A member of the U.S. team for next month's Olympics in Vancouver, Callahan is second on the Rangers with 12 goals and tied with Dubinsky for third with 26 points. He was the only Ranger to score in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 27.
Gaborik was held without a point in that game, but he has scored six goals in seven career games against the Lightning (19-19-10).
With Gaborik's help, New York could continue its recent success against Tampa Bay. It's won seven of the last 10 meetings and five of six at MSG.
Tampa Bay, 7-13-5 on the road, is looking to build on Monday's 3-2 win at Carolina after opening this three-game trip with a 5-2 loss at Florida to get swept in that home-and-home set.
Steve Downie has two goals in three games, including the eventual winner midway through the third period against the Hurricanes. The right wing has a career-high 11 goals with eight coming in the last 24 games, including one in the last meeting with the Rangers.
Coach Rick Tocchet is rewarding the 22-year-old Downie for his improved play.
"He deserves to play," Tocchet said. "I've really enjoyed watching him play the last month, the last few weeks. The thing with Steve Downie is he's earning it. Every practice he's out there a half-hour before anybody's out there. When you do that, things pay off."
While Downie has been hot, Steve Stamkos is on a three-game point drought after getting four goals and six assists in the previous five contests.
Stamkos had a goal and an assist against the Rangers in November after getting held without a point in four games against them as a rookie last season.