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Rangers end losing skid with 4-2 win over Lightning

Rangers end losing skid with 4-2 win over Lightning

Tom Renney did not hit the panic button. Instead, he probed for the proper buttons to push to get his wobbly team back on solid footing.

A surprise day off the ice and inspirational chat from a U.S. Army Ranger instructor got the juices flowing again on Wednesday. The benching of a top player, penalty-plagued Michael Nylander, got the minds focused again on Thursday morning.

And with an enthusiastic, mostly intelligent and ultimately resilient effort that harkened back to the work they had produced so consistently until the last couple of weeks, the Rangers beat back the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2, on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden to snap a three-game losing streak, all at home.

"We were a little bit more desperate today," winger Martin Straka said.

And a bit rattled when, having blown a lead in the final six minutes to lose a third straight game two nights before, the Rangers allowed two third-period goals on Thursday night to squander a 2-0 lead.

"When they got that quick goal and then tied the game, we didn't start panicking but it was a little like, `Uh-oh, here we go again,' " defenseman Darius Kasparaitis said. "But our bench started talking and saying, `Let's go, let's just play and good things can happen.' "

Who would have guessed, however, that the long-dormant Rangers power play would cap a resounding night with its third goal? And that Garden whipping boy Tom Poti would score it?

That's just what happened when Jaromir Jagr hunted down a loose puck in the left corner and fed back out to the top of the slot to an all-alone Poti. The season-long target of Garden boo birds, Poti appeared to take out his considerable frustrations with a punishing slap at the puck, wiring it past John Grahame's catching glove with 1:48 left for his first goal of the year.

"It felt pretty good," Poti said afterward, smiling. "A, to get the win. And B, to kind of get the monkey off my back and finally get a goal. It felt good. I'd been getting a lot of chances but nothing was going in."

Plenty of his teammates could relate. The Rangers had scored only four goals over their previous three games and had been held to two or fewer in six of their last nine. On the power play, they had entered Thursday night's game 2-for-36 and 6-for-70.

Renney had tweaked it, convincing skeptical forward Martin Rucinsky to play the point for the first time in his career as Straka slid back down low. And on a stoppage in play midway through that last power play that was awarded when Tampa Bay's Nolan Pratt shot a puck into the crowd, Renney used his timeout to rest his No. 1 unit and then sent it back onto the ice to finish the job.

Having converted twice before to build a 2-0 lead - rookie Petr Prucha scored again (his 16th of the season) midway through the first period and Straka finished a give-and-go with Rucinsky midway through the second - the power play was up to the task.

"That's what we said before the game, especially on the power play - we were going to battle for all the pucks and get all the rebounds," Straka said. "That was the difference. That's always the difference."

National service

Seven Rangers were named to their Olympic teams on Thursday. G Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), who made 30 saves on Thursday night; RW Marcel Hossa (Slovakia); and Jagr, Straka, Rucinsky, Prucha and D Marek Malik (Czech Republic). Meanwhile, defenseman Darius Kasparatis and Fedor Tyutin are under consideration for Russia's team.

Flyers 4, Senators 3

At Philadelphia, Simon Gagne celebrated his return to the Philadelphia lineup with a goal and an assist to help the Flyers top Ottawa.

Gagne, who missed five games with a strained groin, converted on a power play off a give-and-go with Peter Forsberg to give the Flyers a 4-0 lead at 9:08 of the second period.

Mike Knuble, Sami Kapanen, and R.J. Umberger also scored for the Flyers, who have beaten the Senators twice in a season for the first time since going 4-0 in 1997-98. Zdeno Chara, Antoine Vermette, and Mike Fisher scored goals for the Senators, who have dropped three of their last four games.

In other NHL action: Boston 4, Toronto 1; Washington 6, Atlanta 5, SO; Phoenix 2, San Jose 1; Colorado 4, Minnesota 3.


Updated : 2021-03-01 00:15 GMT+08:00