NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Henrik Lundqvist reached 30 wins for the fourth straight season, Sean Avery scored his first goal since returning to the Rangers, and Scott Gomez had three points in New York's 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Lundqvist made 19 saves in his return from a one-game absence caused by a stomach ailment that has bothered him for about 10 days. He has earned at least 30 wins in each of his NHL seasons.
Avery scored his fourth goal but first since rejoining the Rangers last week after he was waived by the Dallas Stars. Scott Gomez had a goal and two assists, and Marc Staal and Fredrik Sjostrom also scored for New York.
Shea Weber and J.P. Dumont netted the Predators' goals.
Avery gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 3:38 into the first period. Gomez's shot bounced off the back boards and the puck slid across the crease. Avery skated in from the right side and tapped it into the open side of the net to beat goalie Dan Ellis.
Big Save Changes Momentum
The turning point in the game came when Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist denied JP Dumont’s breakaway early in the second period. Nashville was leading 2-1 at the time and just killed a New York power-play. The crowd was into the game. A third goal there and building would have erupted. It would have been very difficult for the Rangers to mount a comeback.
Weber tied it with nine minutes left in the period with a power-play goal as he fired a wrist shot from a few feet inside the blue line. The puck bounced off Lundqvist's glove and into the net.
Dumont gave the Predators their first lead with 5:06 remaining in the first. He tried to center the puck from the left circle but his pass bounced off the skate of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and into the net.
The Rangers made it 2-2 at 3:01 of the second period. Ellis cleared the puck from behind the goal, but Ryan Callahan intercepted the pass and fired a shot from the left side. Gomez got position in front and directed the puck into the net.
The Rangers took a 3-2 lead with 2:31 left in the second. With several players scrambling for a rebound in front of the net, Staal tapped the puck past Ellis.
Sjostrom added a short-handed goal 7:59 into the third period.
Notes: Weber's 18th goal tying the franchise record for most in a season by a defenseman. ... Lundqvist is the first Rangers goalie to earn 30 wins in four straight seasons. ... Ellis made his first career start against the Rangers.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On the play of the game during the first period…
I thought in the first period, we did a really good job. In the second period, we couldn’t keep up the pace. We weren’t very good in the face-off circle tonight, and they were able to get some momentum and get some pucks down deep on us. Both of our goals during the second were just blatant turnovers. I thought with their goals number two and three, we just mismanaged the puck.
On the play of the game changing after the first period…
We really came out hard. We pushed the pace, we moved the puck very quickly, we took some chances and came out with the lead. Their first one was a little bit lucky because they shot it, it went of the backboards, and then bounced around in the crease and then tapped it in. That’s just a little bit of luck, but good things happen when you get to the net, I guess.
On this being an East vs. West game…
They are a pretty good team. They are desperate because they have lost a few, they have some pretty good players on the roster and they played a really strong game. They came and skated, worked, and then capitalized on their chances. They got the result that they probably deserved.
On what the team has to do to improve…
We are going to need total commitment from everybody offensively and defensively with the puck. We are going to have to be good at the draws, we are going to have to be good on special teams.
On taking advantage of the four-game road trip…
It’s just going to have to be a good road trip, plain and simple. Coming back from the All-Star break we went to Canada and looked a little bit bleak, and we dug in and everyone was committed. We had a pretty good trip. Same thing this time – we have to go on the road and do something here.
On defining moments during this game…
There are defining moments during every game. When it was 2-1, we had a breakaway with J.P. Dumont that we didn’t convert there, and they came down and scored after to made it 2-2. The games are tight and you have to manage the puck and do all the right things and push the pace, be physical and be disciplined.
Forward Steve Sullivan
On the loss…
We know how tight this is right now, how tight the races are. I thought we had a great first period tonight but we kind of tightened up. We started squeezing our sticks and weren’t the same loose, go-after-them-type of team we were in the first period, and it cost us. We knew that they were going to come after us and I thought that we did a great job in the first period going after them and they turned the tide. Once they started getting momentum in the second period we weren’t able to shift back and the momentum was all theirs.
On tonight’s offense…
When you are missing your top goal-scorers, it’s difficult, but I think that we had a lot of scoring chances tonight. We had two goals. If you play well defensively in this league, two goals should get you a point.
Defenseman Shea Weber
On getting back to winning…
We just have to refresh our minds. We just have to take the positives out of this and move forward. We have to play well on the road. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, we have to play well and we have to get points if we want to make the playoffs.
Goaltender Dan Ellis
On the third goal…
Pucks were bouncing all over the place. They bounced a little bit on their side also, with their guy kicking a puck in. You have to try to find the puck and try to make a save, but it managed to get by me.
On the Rangers play…
They started to take it to us a little bit more in the second period, and we didn’t quite recover from it. They came with a lot of pressure. That’s what the scouting report was on them – that they were going to come at you no matter where you were on the ice, and that’s what they did. They contained the puck quite a bit in our end in the second period and that took a lot of our offensive opportunities away and didn’t give us a chance to get our game back on.