TAMPA, Fla. — Brandon Prust
started New York's four-goal first period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped
29 shots for his fourth shutout of the season as the Rangers routed the
Tampa Bay Lightning 5-0 on Friday night.
The Rangers moved ahead of Atlanta and
into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind
Philadelphia and Boston at the postseason cutoff. New York has five
games remaining, the same amount as Boston and one more than
Prust scored 3:09 in, Marc Staal
doubled the lead 25 seconds later, Vinny Prospal added a goal, and
Brandon Dubinsky pushed the lead to 4-0 with a power-play tally before
15 minutes had elapsed. Aaron Voros finished the scoring late in the
The Rangers have gone 4-0-1 in their
past five to get back into the thick of the playoff race.
Prust started the onslaught with his
third goal of the season, beating goalie Mike Smith between the pads.
Staal made it 2-0 with his seventh, scoring at 3:34.
Prospal added his 19th goal when his
pass through the crease deflected in off the skate of Lightning
defenseman Vladimir Mihalik. The Rangers benefited from another
fortunate bounce when Dubinsky's shot deflected through Smith and
caromed in off Kurtis Foster's skate.
Smith, who made just three saves on
seven shots, was replaced at the start of the second period by Antero
The Lightning had chances to cut into
their deficit when they had a long 5-on-3 advantage early in the second.
However, the Rangers limited Tampa Bay to just one shot and killed off
the penalties to Jody Shelley (holding) and Dubinsky (delay of game).
The Lightning were 0-for-4 overall on power plays.
Niittymaki made 14 saves in his two
periods of action.
There was a brief stoppage
14:24 in after Lightning RW Steve Downie was injured. Downie and Rangers
D Dan Girardi crashed into the boards behind the New York net, and
Downie's stick was driven into his midsection during the collision. He
stayed down for several minutes, but was able to skate off — declining
to get onto a stretcher that was brought onto the ice. Downie returned
to the game in the third period. … Lightning D David Hale missed his
fourth straight game because of a lower body injury.
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