Rangers extend streak to 4 with 4-3 win over Predators
NEW YORK (AP) — The Rangers are taking advantage of their longest homestand this season to keep right on rolling after the All-Star break.
J.T. Miller scored two goals and New York rallied past the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Thursday night for its fourth consecutive victory.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 34 shots in the win. Coming off a 43-save performance Tuesday against Anaheim, the star goaltender is 7-1 in his past eight appearances and needs one victory for 400 in his career.
“I felt like we had good speed and good energy throughout the game, but sometimes all it takes is confidence,” Lundqvist said. “We gained some. They maybe took a step back after we scored the first one and it gave us an opportunity to control the play a little bit more.
“Going into the third, we were a confident group. We believe in each other and in our system and we know we can strike at any moment.”
With his team trailing 2-0 in the second period, Lundqvist made two crucial saves to give the Rangers a chance to come back.
“Tonight, the game is real simple: It’s 2-0, and he has two key saves to make and he makes them,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “You talk about timely saves. That’s what it was right there. He made those two big saves and enabled us to score right after on the next shift.
“We got a little bit of momentum, got going a little bit, tied it up and were able to go from there. We’ve been talking about that for a while, those timely saves and those timely goals.”
Michael Grabner had one of those timely goals. Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers, who overcame a 2-0 deficit and have won seven of nine overall. Kevin Hayes had three assists.
The line of Hayes, Miller and Grabner was effective against the Predators.
“I think we all complement each other,” Hayes said. “I like to pass and those two clearly like to score. They’re both having a great year and scoring at will right now, so I’m just trying to find them and they try to get it to me in the zone and just go from there.”
Cody McLeod opened the scoring, and Calle Jarnkrok and Roman Josi each had a power-play goal for the Predators.
Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban added two assists, his first multipoint game since Nov. 21. He missed 16 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season.
Juuse Saros made 26 saves for the Predators.
With the score tied 2-all in the third period, Mats Zuccarello fired a shot at the net that Kreider deflected in at 5:36 for his career-high 22nd goal. It stood after a video review to see if the Rangers were offside entering the zone.
Miller added his second of the game and 18th of the season with four minutes left to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Miller leads the team with 44 points.
Josi scored on the power play with 2:01 remaining.
After trailing 2-0, the Rangers tied the game in the second period. They took advantage of a turnover by Matt Irwin, and Hayes passed to Grabner for his team-high 26th goal at 8:12. Grabner has four goals in his past three games.
Later in the period, New York scooped up a turnover in the neutral zone. Hayes skated in and passed to Miller, who one-timed it past Saros at 14:58.
“We had an All-Star break combined with our bye week a few weeks before and we recharged there,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Now we’ve got some confidence going at home and we’ve played some good games on the road, so we have to continue that.”
Nashville, which entered with nine wins in its previous 13 games, got off to a fast start.
Subban took a shot from the right point and McLeod was in front of the crease to sweep in the rebound past Lundqvist for his fourth of the season at 16:39 of the opening period. The Predators made it 2-0 when Mike Fisher made a nice backhand pass to Jarnkrok, who beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot for a power-play goal at 3:50 of the second for his 10th of the season.
“They’re a fast team, and they have some fast players,” Predators center Ryan Johansen said.
“I think it took a little while to adjust to it, and we got a two-goal lead, exactly what we wanted, but (they had a) couple lucky bounces on their goals, too.
“And myself, I had three chances right in front and I have to find ways to get those in the net because I miss my chance, they come right back down and score.”
NOTES: Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi missed the game with a foot injury. He was hurt blocking a shot in Tuesday’s win over Anaheim. Adam Clendening returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past four games. Matt Puempel and Brandon Pirri also were scratched by New York. ... The Rangers are 18-5 against Western Conference teams this season. They beat the Predators 2-1 in a shootout in December at Nashville. ... Anthony Bitetto, Colton Sissons and Brad Hunt were scratched by the Predators.
Predators: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
Rangers: Finish a four-game homestand against last-place Colorado on Saturday night.