Rangers 4, Lightning 3

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Center Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists, and the New York Rangers scored three power-play goals to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Sunday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Lightning (23-12-4) entered the game 4-0-1 in the second half of back-to-back games this season, but they appeared weary in the first two periods against a Rangers team that last played Friday. Tampa Bay, which lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, mustered a strong third period Sunday but failed to gain a point for the first time in seven home games.

New York (19-19-2) assumed control with a high-energy, two-goal second period -- both on power plays -- as the Lightning allowed numerous odd-man rushes.

Rangers center Chris Kreider took full advantage less than five minutes into the period when he skated past two defensemen to slip his 10th goal of the season past goalie Anders Lindback (25 saves). Zuccarello and defenseman Ryan McDonagh were credited with assists.

Left winger Benoit Pouliot poked in his seventh of the season from the goal mouth for a 4-2 New York lead with 12:09 left in the period. Center Derick Brassard set up the goal with a cross-ice pass, and Zuccarrello also had an assist.

New York took a 1-0 lead at 4:30 of the first period when left winger Rick Nash scored his seventh of the season. Nash raced to the left of the crease to tap in a pass from center Derek Stepan, who snared a mid-ice turnover from Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas.

Lightning center Tyler Johnson tied the score at 1 with a power-play goal with 9:19 left in the period. Johnson notched his 10th goal of the season when right winger Teddy Purcell drew two Rangers in the slot and dished left to his open teammate. Purcell and Valtteri Filppula earned assists.

Left winger Ondrej Palat gave Tampa Bay its first lead by ripping in a long rebound from goalie Henrik Lundqvist off a Gudas shot. Assists went to Gudas and defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote on the goal that gave the Lightning a 2-1 edge at 16:05 of the first.

New York countered to tie the score five seconds into a power play at 18:25 of the opening period. Zuccarello camped in front of Lindback, freed himself from Gudas and tapped in a pass from center Derick Brassard. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh earned an assist after beginning the play following a face-off win by center Brad Richards.

Tampa Bay generated increased energy early in the third period, pulling within 4-3 with 11:46 left in the game when Filppula redirected in a blast from Purcell. Defenseman Dmitry Korobov notched his first NHL point with an assist.

NOTES: LW Benoit Pouliot scored a goal in four of the Rangers' last five games to raise his season total to seven. ... Rangers LW Rick Nash ended a seven-game goalless streak in the first period. ... Lightning D Eric Brewer, who missed three games with an upper-body injury, is eligible to come off injured reserve. ... Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist started Sunday after being benched for rookie Cam Talbot (8-3-0, 1.72) the previous three games. Lundqvist, a Vezina Trophy-winner in 2011-2012, allowed at least three goals in his eighth consecutive start. He made 37 saves against the Lighning. .... Rangers D Conor Allen, 23, made his NHL debut. ... Rangers D Marc Staal, out since suffering a concussion on Dec. 7, practiced Saturday but did not play Sunday. ... Rangers RW Ryan Callahan practiced in full uniform for the first time since spraining the MCL in his left knee in early December, but he remains out indefinitely.
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