Rangers center Barclay Goodrow, center, celebrates his goal against the...

Rangers center Barclay Goodrow, center, celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with defenseman K'Andre Miller, left, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.  Credit: AP/Chris O'Meara

Barclay Goodrow put it out there after the Rangers closed out 2021 with a thrilling and satisfying 4-3 shootout win over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night: For the no-longer-rebuilding Blueshirts to be considered one of the top teams in the NHL, it was time for them to actually beat one of the top teams in the NHL.

And yes, it was a shootout win, and the Lightning were playing the second night of a back-to-back, and they were without No. 1 goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was in COVID protocol. But the Rangers still were pleased after beating the NHL’s co-leader in overall points.

"If we want to be in the conversation with the top teams in the league . . . then we need to start beating those teams,’’ Goodrow said after his two-goal performance in his first return to Amalie Arena since the Lightning traded him to the Rangers in July. "We’ve fared pretty well against teams that are out of a playoff spot, or below us in the standings. But against teams that are above us or considered one of the top teams, we haven’t fared so well.’’

In compiling their 20-8-4 record, the Rangers are 14-0-1 against Columbus, Montreal, Ottawa, Seattle, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Chicago, Arizona, New Jersey and the Islanders, who on New Year’s Day had a combined record of 102-150-34. That left them 6-8-3 against everyone else, including being swept in two games each by Calgary and Colorado.

But the Rangers are 1-1 against Toronto, Nashville and Florida and now are 1-0 against the Lightning, whom they will play again Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

"We’ve said it, you’ve got to beat teams like this to be a good team,’’ Adam Fox said after Friday’s game. "I think we’re learning to do that. Obviously, you want to hold leads when you have them — we haven’t done the best job of that recently — but I think it’s still a learning curve. And games like these definitely help with that learning.’’

Coach Gerard Gallant, who doesn’t like to make too many changes, made a couple of tweaks Friday.

With Fox’s regular partner, Ryan Lindgren, missing a second game because of COVID protocol, he put Fox with Patrik Nemeth and dropped Libor Hajek to the third pair with rookie Nils Lundkvist. And late in the third period, with the score tied at 2, he moved Goodrow up from the fourth line to play right wing with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

Goodrow got his second goal of the game while playing on that line, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead with 6:25 left in regulation.

After the game, Gallant said the Fox-Nemeth pair was "fine’’ but that he hopes to get Lindgren back soon so he can put him back with Fox.

Keeping Goodrow with Panarin and Strome, though, could be something worth trying again for a while. Dryden Hunt, who had been playing with Strome and Panarin, does a lot of good things, but he has no goals and two assists in his last 11 games.

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