February 01, 2015

The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers rank among the most efficient teams in the NHL as far as taking advantage of their shots, although there's no doubt they would like to increase their volume.

They'll complete their season series Monday night at Madison Square Garden after splitting their first two meetings.

These clubs are among the worst in shots per game, with New York (40-24-8) averaging 28.5 and Florida 28.4. That hasn't stopped them from ranking among the best in goals per game, with the Rangers and Panthers (40-23-9) both averaging 2.8.

Both teams have shooting percentages of 9.7 that place them within the NHL's best in that department.

The Rangers are back home after completing a 1-1-1 trip by allowing their most shots as they were outshot 52-26 in Saturday's 4-1 defeat to San Jose. They have one win in their last five games.

''It was ugly as it's ever been,'' defenseman Marc Staal said. ''That type of game like this at this time of year is garbage. We have to be better. We're just trying to make plays that aren't there. We aren't making plays when we are there. We're fighting it all the way.''

Florida was outshot 30-26 in Saturday's 5-3 loss to Detroit after leading by two goals in the second period.

''We just didn't play well, didn't play hard, didn't compete enough,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. ''Detroit wanted it more and they went out and got it.''

The Panthers will try to take advantage again of a Rangers' penalty kill that is one of the worst in the NHL at 77.3 percent. Florida is 3 for 10 on the power play in the season series, losing 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 21 and winning 3-0 on Jan. 2.

New York's Rick Nash had a hat trick in the first meeting before the second one marked the start of his current 14-game goal drought. Nash missed 20 games in the midst of that run due to a bone bruise, and has no points in five games since returning.

Eric Staal also hasn't been too effective with one goal and two assists in 10 games since being acquired Feb. 28 from Carolina.

New York seeks to avoid its first three-game home slide in the regular season since an 0-4-1 stretch Dec. 2-12, 2013.

Jussi Jokinen has 15 points in his last 13 games and Vincent Trocheck nine in his last seven for the Panthers, who start a three-game trip and play six of their final 10 on the road.

"We got a three-game road trip here and we'll be back home after that so it's gonna be a fun stretch," said center Nick Bjugstad, who has six points in a career-best five-game run.

The Panthers figure to start Roberto Luongo, who was Rangers coach Alain Vigneault's regular goaltender when both were with Vancouver. Luongo's 3.67 goals-against average in 12 regular-season games at MSG is his worst in any arena he has started in at least three times.

The Rangers will likely go with Henrik Lundqvist, who won six straight starts versus the Panthers before losing in January. His 1.91 GAA against Florida matches his second-lowest against any foe.

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