National Hockey League
- Madison Square Garden PUCK DROP -
Tampa Bay Lightning
ML: TB +120
NY Rangers Rangers
ML: NYR -133
Goalie Performance
Peter Budaj
#31 G Peter Budaj
Antti Raanta
#32 G Antti Raanta
0.929 SV% 26 SV
0.812 SV% 13 SV
Scoring Leaders
Brayden Point
#21 C Brayden Point Goals Assists 2 0
Nikita Kucherov
#86 RW Nikita Kucherov Goals Assists 0 2
#61 C Gabriel Dumont Goals Assists 1 0
Steven Kampfer
#43 D Steven Kampfer Goals Assists 1 0
Michael Grabner
#40 RW Michael Grabner Goals Assists 1 0
Mats Zuccarello
#36 RW Mats Zuccarello Goals Assists 0 1

NEW YORK -- Brayden Point had a 21st birthday to remember Monday night and it ended with a face full of shaving cream.

The rookie scored two goals -- including the game winner with 6:39 to play in the third period -- as the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their late-season playoff surge with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Point's 10th goal drew the Lightning even at 1-1 in the first period and his 11th goal came with his team short one forward, as center Vladislav Namestnikov re-aggravated a lower-body injury at the end of the second period and missed the final 20 minutes.

Ryan Callahan, who has played in just 18 games this season due to injury, rewarded Point in the locker room with a towel full of shaving cream. It was a big performance from the 5-foot-10 Point, who has seen his role increase recently with centers Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette out with injury.

"You try not to put pressure on yourself," Point said. "You want to play on the top line. You want to produce offensively. That's something I'm trying to do. You don't like to see guys go down but we're just trying to work hard. That's how we're going to win games, by working."

"I know this is cliche and it's been used a million times, but he's a hockey player," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He goes into a corner and it doesn't matter the size of a player he goes against. You've got to have a will and he does. Everything else works in his game and this is where he is."

The Lightning (33-26-9) have won three straight and have closed to within one point of the final wild-card spot and within three points of third place in the Atlantic. They are 6-1-1 since dealing Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula in trade-deadline moves that seemed to signal the Lightning weren't playoff contenders.

But Peter Budaj, who was acquired from Los Angeles in the Bishop trade, was exceptional against the Rangers, especially when the Lightning were under siege in the first period.

"Budaj played awesome," Point said. "They were all over us and without him it would have been a different game for sure."

Budaj stopped 12 of 13 shots in the first period while the Lightning had just three shots in the opening 20 minutes and 26 shots overall. He turned aside a breakaway chance for Chris Kreider less than a minute into the game and stopped Jimmy Vesey on the doorstep with 2:23 to go in the third period to preserve the lead.

"The Rangers came out really hard on us," Budaj said. "They got their legs going and they got some chances. Thank God I was able to make some saves. Every game is a big one and we need to keep getting these points."

The Rangers (44-24-2) were playing their second game in as many days and appear destined to finish in the first wild-card spot. That may be a blessing, as they would open their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens or Ottawa Senators, which would be a more favorable matchup than what would await them in the Metropolitan.

Goaltender Antti Raanta stopped 13 shots in his second start since the Rangers announced Saturday that Henrik Lundqvist would miss two to three weeks with a hip injury.

"Fatigue's not an issue," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.

"We talk about it all year that a lot of teams are playing a lot of hockey and it's tough to really point the finger at that," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "It's never OK to lose. I don't think that we were as sharp as we could have been."

They were sharp in the first period when defenseman Steven Kampfer scored his first goal as a Ranger and first of the season to make it 1-0.

Michael Grabner capitalized on a turnover by Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison in the second period to tie the game at 2-2 and respond to a goal by Gabriel Dumont.

But the desperate Lightning made the play that mattered most in the third period and they will take the ice in Ottawa on Tuesday night with a chance to move into a playoff spot.

"We're getting closer and closer," Tampa's Alex Killorn said. "We just can't worry too much about that. We have to keep focusing on winning."

NOTES: Lightning coach Jon Cooper had no update on C Vladislav Namestnikov, who aggravated a knee injury and missed the third period. ... Lightning C Tyler Johnson (lower body) and C Cedric Paquette each missed a second game in a row. ... Lightning C Steven Stamkos continues to rehab his knee, but no timetable has been given for his return. ... Rangers D Kevin Klein (back) and D Dan Girardi (ankle) did not play. Klein has not played since Feb. 21, and Girardi has been out since Feb. 26. Girardi could be back this week.
Top Game Performances
Tampa Bay   NY Rangers
Brayden Point 2 Points Michael Grabner 1
Brayden Point 2 Goals Michael Grabner 1
Nikita Kucherov 2 Assists Chris Kreider 1
Brayden Point 1 Power Play Goals N/A
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Peter Budaj .929 Save Percentage Antti Raanta .812
Peter Budaj 26 Saves Antti Raanta 13
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Tampa Bay 16 3 1-2 1-1 2 23
NY Rangers 28 2 0-1 1-2 4 37
Upcoming Games
  • NY Rangers will play their next game at home against Florida. The Rangers have a W/L % of .545 after a win and .769 after a loss.
  • Tampa Bay will play their next game on the road against Ottawa. The Lightning have a W/L % of .394 after a win and .571 after a loss.