NEW YORK (AP) — Rick Nash scored his first goal since returning from a leg injury and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves in leading the New York Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
Viktor Stalberg, Mats Zuccarello and Tanner Glass also scored for the Rangers, who moved two points ahead of idle Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division. New York has nine games left in the regular season, one more than the Penguins, winners of six straight.
Nash gave New York a 3-1 lead at 11:14 of the third period with his 13th goal of the season and first since returning to the lineup March 12. He had been sidelined since Jan. 22 because of a bone bruise.
Vincent Trocheck and Jiri Hudler scored for the Panthers, who lost their second in a row. The Atlantic Division leaders are two points in front of Tampa Bay with nine games to go, one fewer than the Lightning have left.
Al Montoya stopped 28 shots for Florida, which had a goal waved off by the officials early in the third period.
This was a bounce-back game for the Rangers, who gave up a season-high 52 shots and were totally embarrassed in a 4-1 loss at San Jose on Saturday.
Lundqvist was lifted in that game after giving up four goals on 47 shots in 49 minutes. He had a relatively quiet start Monday until the Panthers got going with roughly 7 minutes left in the second period and applied pressure the rest of the way.
Stalberg gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 11:51 of the first, beating Jaromir Jagr to a puck at the point and converting a 2-on-1 with Dominic Moore.
Zuccarello snapped a shot from the inside of the right circle into the top corner on a second-period power play to extend the margin to 2-0.
Lundqvist got help from the post on a shot by Jussi Jokinen during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period. A goal by Florida defenseman Steven Kampfer was waved off early in the third because the officials thought his stick was too high when he batted in a rebound.
The play was reviewed and the call was upheld.
Trocheck cut the margin to 2-1 by deflecting in a pass from Jokinen at 6:51, and the Panthers had a chance to tie it when Jokinen broke in short-handed at 10:27. Lundqvist stopped him, and Nash restored the two-goal lead with a shot from the right circle as the power play ended.
Hudler cut the margin to 3-2 with 36 seconds to play, but Glass scored into an empty net in the waning seconds to ice the game.
NOTES: This was the opener of a three-game road trip for Florida that includes games at Boston and Tampa Bay. … Six of the Rangers’ final nine games will be played at home. … The Rangers played a video tribute to Jagr in the first period to honor him for moving into third place in NHL history in goals (746) and points (1,857). … Stalberg’s nine goals and 11 assists have all come at even strength this season. … Florida D Dmitry Kulikov got hit in the throat in the third period by a shot from Rangers D Keith Yandle. … New York has won five straight at home against Florida.
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