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, ...