January 09, 2015

Fuming following a loss reminiscent of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers must refocus on their current battle for playoff positioning.

The star goaltender can put the rough night behind him by beating a team he has dominated in the past.

Lundqvist looks to end his March struggles and help the Rangers solidify their hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

New York (40-23-8) was denied a second straight win on its three-game California trip and had to settle for one point Thursday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Los Angeles.

The Rangers extended their road point streak to five games and have gone 8-2-2 in their last 12 away from home, but they blew a 3-1 third-period lead and a controversial non-call contributed to the disheartening defeat.

Lundqvist felt he was interfered with by the Kings' Tyler Toffoli on Anze Kopitar's tying goal with 4:10 to play, though coach Alain Vigneault's challenge was denied. Kopitar then scored in overtime to drop New York to 3-3-2 this month.

''I'm so frustrated right now, I don't even know where to begin,'' Lundqvist said.

Lundqvist made 33 saves but suffered his fourth consecutive loss - this one similar to Game 2 of the 2014 final at Los Angeles, in which a controversial goal scored after Lundqvist might have been interfered with led to a 5-4 double-overtime defeat. That put the Kings up 2-0 in the series, which they won in five games.

"We got three points out of four in two of the toughest buildings in the league (also Anaheim on Wednesday)," Vigneault told the team's official website. "We battled real hard. I thought we did what we had to do to come out of here with two points. I'm real proud of how we competed. That's a real good team over there."

Lundqvist is 0-2-2 with a 3.76 goals-against average in March. He didn't play in a 4-0 win over the Sharks on Oct. 19, New York's third straight in the series, but has gone 2-1-0 with a 0.67 GAA in his last three starts against them. The most recent was a 30-save effort in a 3-1 victory at San Jose on Jan. 10, 2015.

The Rangers are three points up on the Islanders for second place, though the Islanders, who also play Saturday, have two games in hand.

San Jose (39-25-6) has no worries about an automatic playoff spot in the Pacific, holding a 15-point lead over Arizona for third place, but the Sharks are also pushing Anaheim for second.

After beating Washington and Boston in a three-day span at home, the Sharks fell 3-1 to the Coyotes on the road Thursday after having two early goals waved off.

Dainius Zubrus' first-period score was nixed by a reviewed offside call and Chris Tierney's goal in the second was disallowed due to a kicking motion.

''It's a little frustrating when you're happy you scored and two times they cancel it,'' said forward Tomas Hertl, who scored his first goal in seven games. ''But it was probably the right call and we should score a couple more goals.''

San Jose has averaged 3.5 goals during a 9-3-3 stretch at home.

Martin Jones made 24 saves but allowed four goals Oct. 19 in his only career appearance against the Rangers.

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