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game recap

Lightning regain first in Atlantic, defeat Rangers

Goals by Miller, Girardi help Tampa Bay night after falling from division lead

by David Satriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Tampa Bay Lightning moved back into first place in the Atlantic Division with a 7-3 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

 

[WATCH: All Lightning vs. Rangers highlights]

 

J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist, and Dan Girardi scored for Tampa Bay (52-22-4), which ended a three-game losing streak and moved one point ahead of the Boston Bruins. Boston defeated Tampa Bay 4-2 on Thursday and has played two fewer games.

The Lightning tied their record with 108 points (2014-15).

Miller scored a power-play goal 35 seconds into the third period to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead. He, Girardi and Ryan McDonagh each played at Madison Square Garden for the first time since joining the Lightning. Miller and McDonagh were traded to Tampa Bay on Feb. 26; Girardi signed as a free agent July 1.

"There are a lot of emotions and thoughts coming into this game, but you just want to play your game, and luckily I got one to come to my stick in the front of the net," Miller said. "I like that they did the (video tribute) ceremony before the game so we could focus after that."

The Lightning scored three times in a span of 2:03 in the third. Cedric Paquette scored his second at 1:53 to make it 4-1, and Brayden Point scored at 2:38 for a 5-1 lead.

Video: TBL@NYR: Paquette nets his second off Conacher's dish

"They are a good team and they are going to take advantage of their chances," Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. "That's what happened."

Ondrej Pavelec made 42 saves for New York (33-36-9), which was eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention Tuesday.

"If you look at tonight, it's kind of a microcosm for a lot of the games for us," Rangers forward Chris Kreider said. "We're playing a really good team that you know if you have lapses, they're going to capitalize."

Brady Skjei scored at 14:59 of the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Paquette made it 1-1 at 3:15 of the second period, with Miller getting an assist. He has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 15 games with Tampa Bay.

"Tough game. We go from last night (against the Bruins) to tonight," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "There's obviously a little different feel in the game and atmosphere, so to get the win was nice."

Killorn gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 4:33 of the second off his rebound.

Filip Chytil scored his first NHL goal, in his fifth game, at 8:14 of the third period to make it 5-2, and Kreider scored at 16:31 to make it 5-3.

Video: TBL@NYR: Chytil nets first NHL goal from the doorstep

Point scored an empty-net goal at 18:16 for a 6-3 lead, and Girardi scored a power-play goal with 34 seconds left to make it 7-3.

"Fortunately, we were able to come in here and get the points today," Miller said. "A month ago, I didn't expect to play this game. ... A lot of good friends there on the other side, so you try to keep it serious and professional during the game."

 

Goal of the game

Paquette's goal at 1:53 of the third period.

Video: TBL@NYR: Paquette pokes one past Pavelec in front

 

Save of the game

Domingue's save on Chris Kreider at 9:57 of the second period.

Video: TBL@NYR: Domingue slides across to deny Kreider

 

Highlight of the game

J.T. Miller's goal at 35 seconds of the third period.

Video: TBL@NYR: Miller nets PPG in return to MSG

 

They said it

"It's a strange feeling playing against guys that you battled with for so long, so it's probably going to take a couple more games before that's normal." -- Rangers forward Chris Kreider on facing former teammates Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman

"It was a tough first for us, just to get our legs back, but I like the way we responded in the second and third, and the guys did what they had to do." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper

 

Need to know

Cooper got his 240th win with the Lightning, breaking a tie with John Tortorella for most in Tampa Bay history. Cooper was hired March 25, 2013, but didn't coach his first game until four days later, a 5-4 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils. ... Prior to falling out of first place Thursday, the Lightning had been there since Oct. 19. ... Yanni Gourde had two assists to give him 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists), one point from the Lightning rookie record set by Brad Richards in 2000-01. ... Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was named the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, given to the player who "goes above and beyond the call of duty," as chosen by the fans.

 

What's next

Lightning: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

Rangers: At the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, MSG 2, NHL.TV)

Video: Miller, Girardi score in return to MSG for 7-3 win

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