The New York Rangers took an early lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at Madison Square Garden and never looked back. Rick Nash’s return to the team after missing the last four games due to injury added a much needed spark to the Rangers lineup. The Rangers have struggled of late, picking up one point in the last four games during Nash’s injury, which included two losses at home to the Canadians and Jets.
It didn’t take long for the Rangers to get on the board as Carl Hagelin found the back of the net just 7:23 into the first period. Derek Stepan made it 2-0 Rangers a little over a minute later, but the Bolts Martin St. Louis scored with just four minutes left in the period to make it 2-1 going into the second. Though the Rangers lead was only one, the team had held the Bolts to just three shots on the period.
According to Yahoo Sports, Nash’s return wasn’t the only spark for the Rangers, as key defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice as well. After a slow start to the second period, Marc Staal added a power play goal for the Rangers making it 3-1. Rick Nash had an assist on the goal, and Henrik Lundqvist finished up a perfect period, stopping all eight shots.
“He played really well,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said about his returning star, Rick Nash, who added a goal in the third period to seal the win.
Tampa Bay came out in the third period playing much better hockey but again was unable to find the net on 14 shots. According to the Tampa Bay Times, last night’s loss put the Bolts below .500 for the first time this season, now at 9-10-1. The loss also gave the Carolina Hurricanes control of the Southeast Division, making matters much worse for the struggling team. The Bolts return to the ice Saturday night against one of the best teams in the NHL, the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers are now 9-8-2 after winning big last night, and have moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points. Now that the losing streak is over, you can expect the Rangers to focus their attention on moving up the Atlantic Division, as they currently sit in fourth place. Rick Nash and his team will have the next two days off to prepare before taking on the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night.