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Lundqvist Shines in Rangers Win Over Kings

Rangers secure third straight win with 3-2 victory over Los Angeles

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Henrik Lundqvist show returned to Broadway Monday night.

No. 30 turned in one of his best performances of the season in making 36 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The win was Lundqvist's third straight and second in as many days.

"I simplified my focus I think three games ago," Lundqvist said. "It helps me be on my toes a little bit. The way I can describe it is I just try to simplify everything and have a little higher readiness than before. But this game, especially for me, is so much the way I think, the way I read the game and stay in the moment. So I just try to simplify it and then adding with the way we're playing right now in the last three (games) - blocking shots, and really trying to play a better defensive game - obviously that helps me."

Brandon Pirri got the offense going with a goal 11:31 into the game, and Matt Puempel scored in his return after missing the last eight games with a concussion to put the Rangers ahead 2-0 midway through the second period. 

Puempel - who was moved up in the lineup in the second period - buried a feed from Derek Stepan on a 2-on-1 past Jeff Zatkoff for his sixth of the season.

"When Step's got the puck there 2-on-1, you've just got to put your stick on the ice. It was rolling so I wanted to get it off as quick as I could," Puempel said of the goal. 

Video: LAK@NYR: Puempel finishes a two-on-one rush

After Los Angeles trimmed the lead to one on a Jordan Nolan goal with 1:59 left in the second, Mats Zuccarello gave the Rangers some insurance with his first goal in 15 games at 6:40 of the third period. J.T. Miller hit Zuccarello with a pass in the slot and the winger went top shelf to put the Rangers back up by two.

"It's a good play by Millsy. He just gets it to me. I tried to shoot quick and it went in this time," Zuccarello said.

Video: LAK@NYR: Miller, Zuccarello combine for nifty goal

Though Los Angeles scored with less than two seconds remaining, it did not damper Lundqvist's performance.

The goaltender was sharp from the start with two key saves on Jeff Carter in the first period, including one on a breakaway. The Rangers were outshot 14-5 in the first period, and 38-17 for the game.

"Obviously right now you want to feel good about yourself so every save matters to me," Lundqvist said about the Carter stop. " In the first period you want to set the tone, get a good feeling, and build off that. That was important for us to not get behind and for me to build that confidence that I started three games ago."

Video: LAK@NYR: Lundqvist stones Carter's shorthanded chance

Head coach Alain Vigneault said "timely" saves like the one on Carter are what separates the good teams from the elite ones.

"The teams that are winning more than one game, you look at those teams, and the one common denominator is goaltending," Vigneault said. "And the one common denominator in goaltending is that timely save." 

Despite the tough stretch earlier this month, his teammates' confidence in him never faulted.  

"We have no worries about Hank," Zuccarello said. "He's our most important player. We didn't give him good enough help for a stretch there. He knew he needed to be better, but everyone goes through slumps during the season. We have no worries about Hank. He's - in my opinion - the best goalie in the world and he showed that tonight and he's showed that the last few games. No worries."

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