After slow start, Benoit Pouliot playing with confidence

Rangers' Mats Zuccarello talks with teammate Benoit Pouliot

Rangers' Mats Zuccarello talks with teammate Benoit Pouliot during the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jan. 8, 2014) (Credit: AP)

Benoit Pouliot didn't have a point in his first eight games as a Ranger before registering a goal and an assist Oct. 26 against the Red Wings in Detroit. The left wing scored the game-winner against the Islanders three days later.

Pouliot scored in the next game, did not dress in the game after that and then went on a tear. Playing with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, he had nine points (five goals and four assists) in the next 13 games.

"He's got more confidence and he's been more assertive on the ice," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's been one of our most physical forwards and making it hard on the Ds."

Last night, Pouliot assisted on Zuccarello's winner in a 1-0 victory over the Red Wings. It was his 14th point in his last 20 games.

Pouliot, who was signed as a free agent, was benched by Vigneault on Dec. 7. Vigneault said Pouliot has a tendency to lose focus, which appears to be a reason why he has played for five teams since 2009.

 

Henrik figures it out

Vintage? Henrik Lundqvist is 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .957 save percentage in the last five games. He is one shutout away from Ed Giacomin's franchise record of 49.

"I felt like I went back to basics," Lundqvist said of the late December trip against the Lightning and Panthers in which he won both games, 4-3 and 2-1. "I was watching a lot of tape. I feel a lot more comfortable."

 

Nash finds his game

Rick Nash, who had eight shots Thursday night, agreed with Vigneault's assessment that his game has returned -- four goals in six games -- because he has been getting inside rather than hanging on the perimeter.

"It took a while to figure out,'' said Nash, who missed 17 games with a concussion. "It's a combination of everything, the speed of the game, timing. . . how to put all the mechanics together and be in the right spot at the right time. I feel like my chances have been there, they just hadn't been going in.''

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