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Rangers face Flames and look to end home woes

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers open a four-game homestand against the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

That may not necessarily be a positive thing for the Rangers.

After opening the season 8-1-0 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers have gone a disastrous 6-10-1 in their home building. They are 1-5-0 in their past six home games and have allowed an average of 4.16 goals per game over that span, including six to the Columbus Blue Jackets in their most recent home game Tuesday.

It's a huge deviation from their home success that past two season; the Rangers had the NHL's seventh-best home record in 2014-15 and third-best last season.

"It's been a staple here since I've been a part of this team," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said after the 6-4 loss to the Blue Jackets. Blue Jackets loss. "We've been tough to play here and we usually feed off the energy of the crowd and have a good start."

"Right now, it's not going the way we want to at home. We're working on it here. We've got to continue to build on it and find a way. We're in the second half now, so there are no excuses for coming out and playing that way. And that's on us veteran guys, making sure we have everybody going the way we need to."

The Rangers bounced back in their next game to beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in overtime on the road Thursday, but now they're coming home to face the Flames, who have won three straight, including two on the road.

The difference for the Rangers was how they played in their own zone; the Sabres had 37 shots, but unlike the game against Columbus, few were of the dangerous variety.

"I thought we defended really well," left winger J.T. Miller said to the New York Post. "From the defensive side out, I thought we made the plays when we had to (and) we were physical."

The Flames showed mettle in their 4-3 overtime win against the Devils, as they fell behind 3-2 after grabbing a 2-0 lead but rallied in the third period to get a big two points when Matt Stajan tied the game at 7:22 of the third; and Mikael Backlund netted the game-winner 1:13 into overtime.

"It was disappointing but that's the way it goes," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said to the Calgary Herald of his team allowing three straight goals in the third period. "Hey, that's the bounces they got. They created them by working hard.

"But I liked the way we came back."

With a matchup against the Rangers and at Pittsburgh to conclude a three-game road swing, the Flames will have their hands full with two of the East's best teams.

"It was a battle," Flames goaltender Brian Elliott said after beating the Devils. "I don't think we can say it was our best game all season. But we battled to get those points and that's what we need to do right now."

"Coming out (East) these teams play a little different style than we're used to. But it's kind of seeing where you fit in the game and taking it to them."

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