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Lundqvist shines as Rangers deal Lightning fourth straight loss

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers had pounced on the Tampa Bay Lightning early, scoring 31 seconds into the game and emerging with a two-goal lead after the first period.

Still, as the Rangers and Lightning looked back on New York's 5-1 win at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, the deeper impression was left by the goals the Rangers did not give up in that first.

Specifically, for New York, the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who fended off several prime chances for Tampa Bay to score. And, for Lightning coach Guy Boucher, it was a frustrating reminder of his team's four-game losing streak, in which it has wasted similar opportunities early.

It all resulted in the Rangers (6-5-0) moving above .500 for the first time this season by also notching their first back-to-back victories of the year.

"Thank God we had Hank; he probably made six unbelievable saves in the first that could have been goals," said Rangers forward Carl Hagelin, who scored twice to tie a career-high, including that first goal of the game. "We're lucky we had him."

Said Boucher: "This one was no good. In the first period, we had three two-on-ones and a breakaway and a backdoor open net. That's been us the last four games. We can't capitalize on our scoring chances and the opponent does."

Arron Asham later scored his first goal as a Ranger and Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash also scored as New York beat the Lightning (6-5-0) for the second time in the past eight days.

Dan Girardi had two assists while Nash, Hagelin, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh also had assists for the Rangers.

Vincent Lecavalier scored for Tampa Bay, with assists to Victor Hedman and Alexander Killorn, who made his NHL debut after getting called up from AHL affiliate Syracuse.

Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for the Rangers while Mathieu Garon made 16 stops while giving up three goals before getting pulled for Anders Lindback. Lindback made 11 saves while giving up the goals to Asham and Nash as Tampa Bay fell to 1-4 on the road.

"This is a team that can't win on the road right now," said Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who failed to score a point for just the second time this season. "It's embarrassing, to be honest, especially today's effort. We couldn't even make a pass out there, so ... we've gotta find a way."

Trailing 3-0 and frustrated by several impressive saves by Lundqvist to that point, Tampa Bay finally broke through at the 14:42 mark of the second. Lundqvist put back a slapshot by Hedman and a wrist shot from Killorn, but Lecavalier shot it past the goalie's left side to cut the Lightning's deficit to 3-1.

But Asham all but locked up the game for New York at the 12:22 mark of the third period when he put one past Lindback's glove side for a 4-1 lead. Nash scored with 8.3 seconds left for his third goal of the season to cap the scoring.

The goal by Asham, a player known for his toughness and willingness to get into scraps, especially heartened the Rangers, Tortorella said, because "those type of guys who fight for their teammates and do all of the dirty things in the game and score a goal, you're certainly happy for him."

Hagelin scored his second goal at the 9:58 mark of the second period, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead and prompting Tampa Bay to pull Garon for Lindback.

Hagelin skated in with defenseman Eric Brewer in pursuit and nudging his stick out, but the Rangers winger shot the puck through Garon's legs.

"If you're creating offense and you're involved in it, sooner or later, it'll go in," Tortorella said of Hagelin, who he said wasn't a natural goal-scorer. "He needs to put pressure on himself to score goals also."

Callahan gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead at the 15:13 mark of the first period after stealing the puck on a bad pass from Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Carle in the neutral zone.

Callahan was all alone against Garon and deked the Lightning goalie into sprawling onto the ice, faking left before shooting right for the two-goal lead.

The Lightning took a 5 1/2-hour bus trip to New York on Saturday after their game against the Boston Bruins was canceled that afternoon due to the winter storm that hit the Northeast.

Tampa Bay was not greeted warmly at the Garden, as the Rangers scored 31 seconds into the game as Hagelin deflected the puck off his arm and in past Garon after Nash hit a blast for a 1-0 lead.

NOTES: Girardi returned to the lineup after missing two games due to an undisclosed injury. Tortorella said Girardi would make an impact because "he's our anchor. I mean, he's a shutdown guy." ... Rangers center Brian Boyle was a healthy scratch for the second straight game, with Tortorella saying the move was a product of young players playing well and finding ice time for offseason acquisitions. "I didn't want to take someone out to force Brian in," Tortorella said, adding that Boyle "is going to be a big part of the team. He's just got to wait his turn now." ... Killorn had scored 38 points this season, with 16 goals, for Syracuse. Tampa Bay sent forward Dana Tyrell to Syracuse. ... MSG Network Rangers reporter John Giannone was back on the air, sporting a black eye and a scratched nose, but also a smile, after getting struck with a puck Thursday night.
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