Nash's highlight reel-goal, Stepan's line tame Lightning, 3-1

Rick Nash (61) shoots the puck past Tampa

Rick Nash (61) shoots the puck past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon (32) to score during the third period of a game in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2013) (Credit: AP)

TAMPA --- Rick Nash broke a 1-1 tie at 3:04 of the third period on a highlight-reel rush, and Martin Biron, in his first start of the season, made 30 saves as the Rangers broke the Lightning’s five-game winning streak Saturday and reached the .500 mark again with a 3-2 win.

On Nash’s second goal of the season, Brad Richards waited to drop the puck to him, and Nash burst down the right wall past defenseman Victor Hedman, angled to the net and stuffed the puck past Mathieu Garon’s extended pad and the far post.  The go-ahead goal was a huge boost for the Blueshirts, who had been blanked by the Penguins on Thursday with an effort that coach John Tortorella had called “the worst of the year collectively.”

 “I kinda saw I had an extra step on him and I knew I could use my body and cut in, it was just a matter of waiting out Garon,” said Nash, who was acquired from the Blue Jackets in the biggest deal of the off-season. “His leg was stretched and I knew if I could just wait him out a half-second longer, I could just tuck it in the little open space.”

“I’ve seen him do that with Columbus,” said Tortorella. “He’s been around chances, but you could sense that he was getting a little frustrated.” Said defenseman Marc Staal: “It’s nice that he’s not doing that on us anymore.”  

Secondary scoring also played a huge role in the team’s first road win in three tries. Carl Hagelin, with his first goal in 36 games made it 3-1 by reaching to deflect Taylor Pyatt’s shuffleboard style pass at 14:47 of the third. Derek Stepan, the center on the line with Hagelin and Pyatt (two assists), which was the Rangers best trio last night, had snapped his own goal drought of 21 games on a rebound at 9:50 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1. It was Stepan’s first goal since Game 6 of the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators, and the first Rangers goal since Ryan Callahan’s in the second period against the Flyers on Tuesday.

“We worked pretty hard tonight,” said Stepan. “Taylor hangs on to it, Carl gets to it, we just seemed to get a little flow going and it kept building, kept snowballing. We seemed to find each other. It’s a great mixture.”

So this was quite a rebound, and Biron played very well. He stopped the first nine shots, and counting his relief appearance at Madison Square Garden against the Penguins, had thwarted 28 of the 29 shots he had faced. And consider this: It was against the Lightning, who had not scored fewer than three goals in a game this season and have surpassed five goals five times, including in each of the past four games, holding a 24-10 edge in that span. “It was the win that felt the best,” said Nash.

Tortorella praised Biron for coming off the bench to perform. “He hasn’t played much. But he settles a team down, there’s not a lot of wasted motion, he’s just very calm and moves the puck well.”

Biron, who said he has been bearing down at practice to prepare for his first start, said he set himself some goals, “and the first was to win. We got the puck out of the zone quickly, we were cycling to wear them down, and they couldn’t get the puck to their skill forwards, which is what we wanted to do.”  

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