TAMPA, Fla. - Call it nothing less than a major rebound for Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.
After allowing 12 goals in losing two straight playoff games to the Lightning, the Rangers' stars showed up Friday night. Lundqvist made 38 saves, including 18 in the second period; the struggling Nash scored twice -- the first multi-goal playoff game of his career -- and Martin St. Louis scored his first goal of the postseason to lift the Rangers to a 5-1 win that tied the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
"There was a lot of talk about [Lundqvist] and his play," coach Alain Vigneault said, "but there wasn't any doubt in our dressing room."
Nor is there any doubt about the Rangers' renewed confidence going into Game 5 at Madison Square Garden Sunday night.
Nash, who had only one goal in the previous 11 games, played one of his most intense games of the postseason. He scored on a breakaway backhander late in the first period to provide a 1-0 lead. His second came at 11:33 of the third period, when he poked a rebound through Ben Bishop's pads on the power play.
"No matter who it was [defending], I was going to try and bring it to the net," Nash said of his opening goal at 17:18 of the first period. "I've been trying to make that a priority in the game. When you're struggling, you're feeling the pressure. I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help defensively, and tonight I got some bounces and they went in."
Nash also had an assist on the third goal, by Keith Yandle, who had three points. "He plays the full ice, but it's nice to see him scoring some key goals for us, help us get a big win," Yandle said. "It's amazing how much skill he has for such a big guy. The amount of determination he has is great."
The 1-0 lead was lost in the second period after a slew of Rangers turnovers and a 19-6 shot onslaught. Steven Stamkos' sixth goal of the playoffs, a rocket one-timer at 11:30, tied it at 1.
But the Rangers stunned the crowd by scoring twice in 1:48 to take a 3-1 lead. Chris Kreider fired a rebound of Kevin Klein's shot through Bishop at 15:16 and Yandle's shot deflected off Victor Hedman's right leg and in at 17:04 for his first postseason goal as a Ranger.
"Our goaltender is one of the best in the league," Nash said, "but they had some really close plays that went off our skates or they just missed the net. We've got to tighten that up a bit."
With the Rangers leading by two in the third period, St. Louis, the former Lightning captain who was booed every time he touched the puck at Amalie Arena, extended the lead with a vintage goal at 5:08, sliding on one knee to one-time the shot while on a power play. With Nash's power-play goal, the Rangers have six man-advantage goals in their last 12 opportunities.
"Guys are making good reads, good decisions. You're winning more faceoffs; we're making plays," St. Louis said. "Special teams are always big at this time of the year. It's nice to have the power play rolling."
The Rangers also kept the high-scoring Triplets -- Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat -- off the scoresheet, limiting them to three shots on goal, although Johnson hit the crossbar in the first period.
"It was a big response," Marc Staal said. "Hankie kept us in there, he played great, and when we had some chances to score tonight, we made them pay."