The New York Rangers continue to show they belong among the Eastern Conference elite. Over the next week, they'll test themselves against the West.
The Rangers face a second straight division leader when they host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in Brad Richards' first game against his former team since joining New York.
The Rangers (17-6-4) have gone 7-1-1 in their last nine to move within a point of conference-leading Philadelphia. After back-to-back losses, they closed the week with strong performances in a 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Saturday and a 6-1 win over Southeast Division-leading Florida on Sunday.
Derek Stepan had two goals and an assist against the Panthers, Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist and Henrik Lundqvist had 20 saves, improving to 10-2-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average since Nov. 1.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," defenseman Michael Del Zotto said. "It's pretty early in the season and anything can happen, but with what we've done so far...