NEW YORK — Vinny Prospal broke out of a 14-game scoring drought with a pair of goals, and the New York Rangers stretched their winning streak to four games with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.
The Rangers, who earned three straight road wins before returning home, picked up their first victory at Madison Square Garden since Nov. 23 by snapping an 0-4-1 skid there. Captain Chris Drury wiped out the Panthers' early 1-0 lead and then assisted when Marian Gaborik scored his NHL-leading 26th goal on a short-handed breakaway in the third period to make it 4-1 during a delayed penalty.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 shots while making his 11th straight start. He was briefly shaken up when Florida's Keith Ballard struck him in the head with his left knee. Ballard became well known when he accidentally hit Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun in the ear with his stick as he attempted to smack it against the post in anger after a goal was scored by Atlanta on Nov. 30.
The Rangers are on their best streak since winning seven straight following an opening-night loss. They were 0-3-2 before this run.
Victor Oreskovich scored for the Panthers, who went 3-2 in a busy eight-day stretch. Vokoun made 28 saves.
Prospal, a top-line forward, hadn't scored since the Rangers lost at home to the Panthers on Nov. 21. He pushed his season total to eight with his second two-goal game since joining New York in the offseason.
Prospal gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead 4:55 into the second period and then provided insurance 23 seconds into the third. Prospal fired a shot in from the slot after Brandon Dubinsky found him with a pass from behind the net. Gaborik scored with 8:46 left.
In the second period, while Gregory Campbell in the penalty box for charging, Gaborik smacked a shot from near the right post that was stopped by Vokoun. Ryan Callahan kicked the puck to Prospal, who scored his third power-play goal.
Lundqvist protected the 2-1 lead when he quickly flashed his glove to knock Michael Frolik's rising drive into the protective netting above the glass with 3:39 left in the second.
The up-and-down middle frame featured 29 shots — 15 by the Panthers, who held a 25-23 shots edge through 40 minutes.
The suddenly resurgent Drury lifted the Rangers into a 1-1 tie at 6:22 of the first when he scored his third goal in four games. Enver Lisin won a puck fight in the lower right corner and fed a pass to Drury, who fired in a one-timed shot from the upper edge of the right circle for his fifth goal.
Oreskovich had given the Panthers a 1-0 lead 4:09 into the game. He hadn't scored in 20 games, dating to Nov. 16 at Los Angeles.
Rangers D Dan Girardi missed the rest of the first period after being struck in the left knee by Nathan Horton's power-play shot at 9:50. He returned to start the second. … Drury scored his only other home goal of the season on Oct. 19 against San Jose. … Florida was 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed New York's fourth short-handed goal. The Panthers have given up six short-handed tallies.
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