NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have never had it so good. Their 5-0 victory over the Quebec Nordiques last night -- their seventh consecutive win at Madison Square Garden -- gave them their best start at home in franchise history.
Their previous best start at home was in 1983-84, when they went 6-0-0. The Rangers, with the best record in the league at 10-3, have won five in a row and 10 of their last 11.
"All the statistics are going to be flattering," said goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, who made 22 saves to earn his second shutout of the season and the ninth of his career. "But the thing is, we're just concentrating on doing the job."
And they're doing it well. The Rangers lead the league in goals against, having allowed only 30 goals in 13 games for a 2.31 average, the lowest in the league.
"I think it's a given thing if your goals against are low, you're going to have a good team," Coach Roger Neilson said. "It's something you can do as a team. You can't really say we're going to be a great scoring team if you don't have the guys. But every team can do a decent job checking."
The Rangers had built their gaudy home record by outscoring their opponents 12-1 in the third period. They didn't need a big third period last night as they had a 3-0 lead after two periods. But they got it anyway, with Kevin Miller and Brian Mullen scoring 2:10 apart to ensure the win.
"The third period was really encouraging," Neilson said, "because we've got a tough week ahead of us. To play another strong third period when you've got a good lead was really good."
The Rangers played the only game in the NHL last night, and their victory gave them 20 points and a three-point lead over their two closest pursuers in the overall standings: the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings come to town tomorrow night and the Rangers then will pack into the weekend games against the New York Islanders at home and the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
That frantic stretch will test the Rangers' defense more than the struggling Nordiques, who lost their fourth in a row, were able to do in the home-and-home series swept by the Rangers.