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Thursday, February 28, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Lightning 1

By Katie Strang



At a glance: Returning to the lineup after missing four games, Rick Nash finished with a goal, an assist and a game-high 12 shots as the Rangers earned a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. In snapping a four-game winless streak, the Rangers also completed a series sweep against the Bolts in front of a home crowd at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

Thanks, ref: With the Rangers trying to build on a 2-1 lead in the second period, the team got an unexpected assist from one of the game’s linesmen. Marty St. Louis tried to clear the Tampa zone on the penalty kill but ended up pegging the linesman in the back, preventing the Lightning from making a change. The Rangers didn’t take long to capitalize, as Marc Staal hammered away at a loose puck in the crease for a Rangers power-play goal with less than four minutes left.

Big returns: Nash returned to the lineup for the Rangers after missing four straight games with an undisclosed injury, believed to be a concussion. Also making their comebacks Thursday were defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto, who both suffered injuries during the team's two-game trip through Canada last weekend.

Setting the tone: Buzzing around the ice and swarming the puck, Rangers speedster Carl Hagelin was rewarded with the game’s first goal. After making a great move along the boards to blow past a Bolts defender, Hagelin unleashed a blast from the left circle to open up scoring at 7:23 of the first period. Derek Stepan extended the Rangers' lead to 2-0 less than two minutes later, burying a deft backhand feed from captain Ryan Callahan at 8:40.

Pretty play: Outshot by the Rangers 20-1, the Lightning cut the Rangers’ 2-0 lead in half by notching a goal on their second shot of the game. St. Louis notched his fifth of the season with a sensational redirect of Eric Brewer's shot to cut the Rangers' lead in half, 2-1, at 16:09 of the first period.

Still streaking: Although the Rangers snuffed out his six-game goal streak, league-leading scorer Steven Stamkos registered a point in his eighth consecutive game with an assist on St. Louis’ first-period marker. Stamkos has 14 points during that span.

Up next: Rangers vs. Sabres, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET.