Nearly a year ago, New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton penned a letter to season ticket holders, stating the team was going to start a rebuild by trading core players.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the biggest beneficiaries as they acquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from New York.
Heading into Saturday's visit to Madison Square Garden, Tampa Bay has won three straight meetings over the Rangers since the deal, achieving those victories rather decisively.
NHL-leading Tampa Bay (38-11-2) has outscored the Rangers 18-9 in those games, although neither of the traded players has done much. The last meeting was a 6-3 home win on Dec. 10 when Steven Stamkos scored twice on the power play and recorded a hat trick.
The win over the Rangers was part of an eight-game winning streak and a stretch of 18 wins in 20 games.
Since the last game of the 20-game hot streak, Tampa Bay has split its last six games while scoring 14 goals. The Lightning avoided their second losing streak of the season with a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday at Nassau Coliseum when Victor Hedman scored the lone goal in the shootout. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves and three more in the shootout. >> Read more
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