TAMPA, Fla. - To climb out of their first-half doldrums, the Rangers need difference-makers. On Sunday night, they had several.
Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Benoit Pouliot scored power-play goals and Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves to win for the second time in his last eight starts as the Rangers defeated the Lightning, 4-3.
It was the first time this season that the Rangers, 4-2-1 in their last seven games, scored three power-play goals in a game. The win brought them back to .500 at 19-19-2 in the second game of this five-city trip.
"Against Toronto, we had like eight scoring chances on the power play and scored nothing," Brad Richards said. "We know we've been moving it around and getting chances, and we got rewarded . . . We're all interchangeable, and I think that makes it a little more difficult for a team to game-plan when you throw different things at them."
With the Rangers leading 4-2 going into the third period, the Lightning threw more pucks at Lundqvist, who had to make 15 stops. Valtteri Filppula tipped Ted Purcell's wrister into the left side of the net at 8:14 and Lundqvist had to shut the door.
"We were kind of a little bit nervous in the third period and didn't play up to our standards, and Hank was our best player," said Zuccarello, whose goal and two assists made him the team's leading scorer with 28 points. "It's a really good feeling for us to see him play well."
Zuccarello, who continued to play superbly, tied the score at 2-2 in the first period with his ninth goal of the season. After Kreider took a pass from Zuccarello and slid a backhander past Anders Lindback at 4:35 of the second period for his team-leading 10th goal, Pouliot, at the crease, deflected in Zuccarello's shot at 7:51 for a 4-2 lead.
Lundqvist, who sat out the previous three games in favor of Cam Talbot and had a 10-15 record with a 2.77 goals-against average, seemed rusty after a week's layoff. Then he snapped into form in the final 40 minutes, making 27 of his saves.
"I paid attention to the details I've been working on," Lundqvist said. "Sometimes it's a good thing to get a lot of work. Some games I've been waiting for shots; there's been odd-man rushes or breakaways, so it's been hard to get your game going. A game like this definitely helps you work on positioning, so I'm pleased."
Rick Nash, who hadn't scored in eight games, converted Derek Stepan's pass at the left post at 4:30 of the first period. After goals by Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning a 2-1 edge, Zuccarello's pass from the right corner eight seconds into a power play deflected off Radko Gudas with 1:35 left in the first.
"Getting that goal right off the hop, I think, helped [Nash] on a personal note,'' Alain Vigneault said, "and him, like Hank, have got to take this as one step and build off it and be better next game."
Lundqvist, who was 1-4-2 in his previous seven starts, readily agreed: "It's going to take more than one game."