Rangers 3 Flames 1
CALGARY — Henrik Lundqvist tied a career high with 50 saves for the second straight start to backstop the New York Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
Recently acquired centre Ryan Spooner led New York (29-30-6) with a goal and an assist. The 26-year-old has one goal and six assists in three games since he was part of a package traded to the Rangers from Boston for Rick Nash.
Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich also scored for New York. After beating Vancouver 6-5 to open its tour through Western Canada, the Rangers will go for the sweep Saturday night when they take on the Edmonton Oilers.
Brett Kulak scored for Calgary (32-25-9), which has lost three straight and is falling back of the pack battling for the final playoffs spots in the Western Conference. Next up is a meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday as they open up a three-game road trip.
Lundqvist was excellent right from the start. Getting a power play 27 seconds into the game, the Flames threatened, but could not beat the veteran goaltender.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead shortly after. On a faceoff in the Flames end, Spooner slapped the puck directly on net off the draw. Rookie goaltender Jon Gillies stopped the high shot, but he couldn’t control the rebound and Hayes banged in the loose puck.
Tied 1-1, New York regained the lead for good 56 seconds into the second, again scoring right after some fine work from Lundqvist.
Playing without his stick, Lundqvist dove across the crease to acrobatically get his blocker on what appeared to be a sure-goal by Mikael Backlund.
The Rangers promptly raced away up ice on an odd-man rush with Buchnevich, after being stopped on his initial chance, eventually poking the puck over the line, under a sprawled Gillies.
Spooner’s breakaway goal at 10:48 of the second made it 3-1 and that would be more than enough offence for Lundqvist, who shut the door the rest of the way to improve to 25-21-5.
Gillies had 24 stops to fall to 2-2-0. The Flames fall to 3-6-1 since the loss of veteran goaltender Mike Smith to a lower-body injury, which has left the crease to rookies Gillies and David Rittich.
Notes: Matthew Tkachuk had an assist giving him 49 points, surpassing his total as a rookie… Drew Shore made his debut for the Flames. He was acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline… Rangers improve to a perfect 18-0-0 when leading after two periods… Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Kris Versteeg (hip) both practised on Friday, but wore no-contact jerseys. They’ve missed three and 43 games respectively.