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game recap

Vasilevskiy gets 40th win, Lightning top Rangers

Makes 27 saves to tie Tampa Bay record for victories in season

by Corey Long / NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves to tie the Tampa Bay Lightning record with his 40th win of the season when they defeated the New York Rangers 5-3 at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Vasilevskiy (40-12-3), who matched Ben Bishop's record from 2014-15, leads the NHL in wins.

 

[WATCH: All Rangers vs. Lightning highlights]

 

"You can't say enough of what he has meant and how well he has played," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's not going to be every night you are going to give up zero or one or two, sometimes you are going to give up more. But if you look at the big picture of the season, he's done a heck of a job for us and he deserves to have the win total he has."

Anthony Cirelli had a goal and two assists, and Cedric Paquette, Adam Erne, Chris Kunitz and Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning (47-17-4), who have won four games in a row and are 8-0-1 in their past nine.

Tampa Bay has the best record in the League and is six points ahead of the Boston Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Ryan Spooner had a goal and two assists, Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist, and Mats Zuccarello scored for the Rangers (30-32-6), who have lost two straight games after winning three in a row and are nine points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Video: NYR@TBL: Spooner puts home juicy rebound

"Against good teams like this you've got to make them earn it," New York forward Mika Zibanejad said. "And we didn't do a good job of that. We gave them a little bit too much and that is what happens."

The Lightning held a 17-0 shot advantage midway through the first period. Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov had their first shot on goal at 10:52.

"That's the hardest a team has come at us all year long," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "They came at us with speed and skill. We had a real hard time following the pace. There's no doubt they dominated us. But I thought the second half of the game we battled and executed better."

Paquette gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 2:31 of the first period when he scored off the rebound of a shot by Kunitz. Erne made it 2-0 at 7:50 of the first with his third goal of the season.

Video: NYR@TBL: Paquette buries rebound past Lundqvist

Cirelli put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0 at 1:53 of the second period.

"[Cirelli has] been great, obviously he's playing on special teams now too, on the [penalty kill] and taking big face-offs," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "With three points tonight, he's been a great fit, so once again that shows the depth we have in the organization with guys coming up from Syracuse [of the American Hockey League] and doing a tremendous job."

Spooner scored to make it 3-1 at 7:10 of the second period. He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in six games since he was acquired in a trade from the Bruins on Feb. 25.

The Lightning went ahead 4-1 on Kunitz's goal at 12:35 of the second, and Johnson made it 5-1 at 17:30.

Zuccarello scored at 3:27 of the third to make it 5-2, and Hayes made it 5-3 at 17:41.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on 31 shots before being pulled for Alexandar Georgiev with 7:25 remaining in the second period. Georgiev made 13 saves.

 

Goal of the game

Johnson's goal at 17:30 of the second period

Video: NYR@TBL: Johnson pounces on carom, pads lead

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy's save on Jimmy Vesey at 12:14 of the third period.

Video: NYR@TBL: Vasilevskiy stops Vesey's point-blank try

 

Highlight of the game

Erne's goal at 7:50 of the first period.

Video: NYR@TBL: Erne beats Lundqvist from the slot

 

They said it

"At the end of the day, it [stinks] to lose hockey games, it doesn't matter what situation you're in. It's really frustrating." -- Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello

"It was a little bit [disappointing]. We've been talking about it for a while now, how we want to be better in the third, but with the way we played in the first period and even in the second period, we played some really good hockey." -- Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman

 
Need to know

Rangers forward Chris Kreider left the game at 17:39 of the first period after taking a hit to the head. He was held out for precautionary reasons after passing a medical test, Vigneault said. ... Namestnikov went 4-for-13 on face-offs and had one shot on goal and two hits in his first game against the Lightning since they traded him to the Rangers on Feb. 26. ... Lightning forward J.T. Miller, who was a part of that trade, had one shot on goal and won 8 of 11 face-offs in his first game against the Rangers.

 

What's next

Rangers: At the Florida Panthers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG, NHL.TV)

Lightning: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; SUN, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV)

Video: Vasilevskiy earns 40th win as Bolts top Rangers, 5-3

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