TAMPA, Fla. — Vladislav Namestnikov made his second return to Tampa since the deadline-day blockbuster last season that shipped him to New York along with a massive package in exchange for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller.
“I played here for a while, so it’s kind of familiar when you come back,’’ said Namestnikov, who assisted on Kevin Hayes’ goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead over the Lightning on Monday night. “But it’s kind of different being on the other side of the rink and the locker room.’’
Namestnikov was playing his second game since missing three games with a concussion. He scored a shorthanded goal Saturday in the 5-4 shootout win over Florida.
“I thought he did a lot of things that he’s going to need to do to be the player he’s capable of being,’’ coach David Quinn said. “He’s had a good year. It was good to get him back in the lineup.’’
Against Tampa, Namestnikov drew a penalty, took a penalty and had an assist.
Zucc sits again
Mats Zuccarello sat out his 13th game in the last 15 with a groin strain, but Quinn said he will be back soon.
“He’s very, very close,’’ Quinn said. “Very close.’’
Zuccarello missed three games before returning for the Nov. 15 game in Brooklyn. Then he sat out the next three games before returning in Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving. That was the last game he played.
He did practice with the team last week and practiced on Sunday in Tampa.
Zuccarello has three goals and seven assists in 17 games.
25th annual Toy Drive
The Rangers will hold their 25th annual Toy Drive on Wednesday at Wollman Rink in Central Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Fans can bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots and get a chance to meet current Rangers players as well as former player Adam Graves.