NEW YORK (AP) — After a rough stretch, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist seems to have regained his form.
Lundqvist stopped 36 shots to lead New York to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night for their third straight win.
Lundqvist has now given up just four goals on 84 shots during the winning streak — including a 1-0 shutout at Detroit on Sunday — after allowing 20 on 113 shots the previous four games. That stretch included giving up seven goals before being lifted after two periods in a 7-6 loss to Dallas at Madison Square Garden last Tuesday.
“I simplified my focus I think three games ago,” Lundqvist said. “It helps me be on my toes a little bit. … I just try to simplify everything and have a little higher readiness than before.”
Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Mats Zuccarello scored for New York.
Lundqvist needed to be at his best in this one as the Kings, who last played Saturday across town against the Islanders, seemed a step faster from the start and controlled play for most of the first two periods while outshooting the Rangers 22-9.
“We knew coming in this was a high volume team in shots,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “They throw pucks at the net, you have to do a good job of controlling his rebounds, and we have to do a good job when there were some rebounds in front of the net, to clear that net.”
Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford scored, and Jeff Zatkoff finished with 14 saves for Los Angeles, which has lost four straight and five of seven.
“We had a lot of opportunities. You have to finish,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “At the end of the day, we need better goaltending. Have to steal a game once in a while.”
After a giveaway by Zatkoff, J.T. Miller chased down the puck in the right corner and sent a pass back to Zuccarello in the right circle, and he fired it past the goalie for his ninth of the season at 6:40 of the third to make it 3-1. It was Zuccarello’s first goal since Dec. 15 at Dallas — he had 17 assists in 14 games since — and extended his point streak to six games.
“He’s been playing outstanding … one of our best two-way forwards,” Vigneault said. “Scoring is maybe the final product, but he’s set up a lot of guys for goals, and he’s played real hard at both ends of the rink.”
With Zatkoff pulled for an extra skater, Clifford pulled Los Angeles within one with about one second left on the clock.
Puempel, back after missing eight games with concussion symptoms, doubled the lead on an odd-man rush with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the second period when he took a pass from Derek Stepan and wristed it past Zatkoff for his sixth.
Nolan got the Kings on the scoreboard with 2:01 left in the second, rifling a shot top shelf from outside the left circle.
Los Angeles had a 10-1 advantage on shots over the first 11 1/2 minutes of the game until the Rangers capitalized on a Kings turnover. Brayden McNabb sent a pass from behind the Kings’ net that went off Nick Shore’s stick right to Pirri , who wristed it past Zatkoff for his eighth.
Lundqvist made a pair of nice saves on Kings leading scorer Jeff Carter in the opening period. First, he made a pad save on a tip attempt shortly before the Rangers’ goal, and then stopped Carter on a short-handed breakaway with about 1 1/2 minutes to go.
“Timely save,” Vigneault said of the late-period stop. “The teams that are winning more than one game, you look at those teams, and the one common denominator is goaltending. And the one common denominator in goaltending is that timely save.”
NOTES: Sutter remained tied with Jacques Lemaire for 12th on the NHL wins list at 617. … C Anze Kopitar tied Rob Blake for fifth place on the Kings’ games played list with 805. … The teams conclude their season series March 25 at Los Angeles. … Vigneault coached his 1,100th game, becoming the 18th coach in NHL history to reach the milestone. … New York improved to 20-7-1 when scoring first and 19-2-0 when leading after two.
Kings: At New Jersey on Tuesday night in the third game of a five-game trip.
Rangers: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
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