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Rangers win fourth straight with 5-2 victory over Flames

The New York Rangers' Rick Nash, center, celebrates

The New York Rangers' Rick Nash, center, celebrates his goal with teammates J.T. Miller, left, and Mats Zuccarello during the first period of an NHL game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alberta, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Credit: AP / Jeff McIntosh

Rick Nash, the unquestioned Rangers MVP so far this season, scored his 19th and 20th goals Tuesday night as the Blueshirts swept their three-game trip in western Canada after a 5-2 win over the Flames.

Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored, Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter and Henrik Lundqvist, in his third start in four days, made 29 saves as the Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high four games.

It is the first time in 20 tries in Rangers history that they swept Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary on the same trip.

Playing without center Derick Brassard, the club's second leading scorer with 24 points, who is in New York with a suspected case of the mumps, Nash took control in the first 23:06 against the Flames, who lost their sixth straight. It is the 11th season in which Nash has scored 20 or more goals.

"He's been leading by example all year," Stepan said. "He seems to be doing it a lot, getting us on the board early, just taking over. It's so impressive."

Leading 4-1, the Rangers limited the Flames to just five shots in the first 14 minutes of the third period -- although Kevin Klein may have saved a goal in front. Hagelin's second empty-netter in two games made it 5-1 and Curtis Glencross beat Lundqvist with 1:15 left to end the scoring.

Kreider's first goal in 14 games, with 7.8 seconds left in the first period, gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

With Jiri Hudler in the box for hooking Matt Hunwick with a minute to play before intermission, the Flames had two very good shorthanded chances, but Lundqvist stopped both, the second by getting his left arm on a rising shot from Josh Jooris.

Mats Zuccarello then fired a long low shot from mid-ice that Karri Ramo fumbled at his feet. Kreider crashed the net and batted it in for the power-play goal.

Nash stretched his career-high points streak to 11 games with the opening goal -- his 19th -- on the Rangers second shot of the first period. A dump-in by the Flames went around the glass behind Lundqvist's net and came out along the boards on the right side, where Nash scooped it up. He skated in on a partial breakaway, deked Ramo to the ice, went to his forehand and slid the puck around him at 11:22.

"The biggest things are my teammates are making great plays," Nash said of the streak. "I'm getting a little lucky, like with the puck going around the boards. You don't want to think about it too much when things are going well."

At 3:06, Nash struck again, this time shorthanded, ripping a shot over Ramo's right pad for a 3-0 lead. Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi assisted on Nash's 20th goal, which ties him for second in the league. He's three behind the Stars' Tyler Seguin.

"It gives the team a lot of confidence to know we have a player like that who can raise his game to that level and be the difference," Lundqvist said of Nash.

He added: "I can't remember a guy being that active and that good on breakaways. Even if you're hot you're gonna miss some, but last couple weeks it's been unbelievable picking up pucks with his speed, coming to the net, making a quick move and it's in."

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