NEW YORK — Steven Stamkos scored in the second period to give Tampa Bay a three-goal lead, Louis Domingue stopped 31 shots and the Lightning held on to beat the New York Rangers 3-2 Saturday night.
Yanni Gourde and Erik Cernak also scored to help the league-best Lightning get their 39th win and become the first team to reach 80 points this season.
Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes had goals for the Rangers, and Mika Zibanejad had two assists. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 20 saves as New York lost for the second time in three games since the All-Star break.
The Rangers had a chance to tie it when former captain Ryan McDonagh took a tripping penalty with 5:51 left in the third, but they were unable to generate any shots on the power play. They also pulled Lundqvist for an extra skater with just over two minutes left to no avail.
Gourde opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first, tapping a loose puck past Lundqvist for his 13th. McDonagh — in his second game back at the Garden since he was traded to the Lightning late last season — had an assist on the goal.
Cernak, a 21-year-old defenceman from Slovakia, made it 2-0 with his first career goal at 4:41 of the second, rifling the puck past Lundqvist from the slot. Another former Rangers captain — Ryan Callahan — had an assist.
McDonagh and Callahan were among five former Rangers skating for the Lightning. The list also included defencemen Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, and forward J.T. Miller.
Stamkos made it 3-0 with his 28th at 8:33 of the second period with assists to Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov, who leads the Lightning with 80 points.
Zuccarello — playing his 500th game for the Rangers and becoming the first player from Norway to reach that milestone — got the Rangers on the scoreboard with 3:43 left in the middle period with his ninth.
Hayes narrowed the deficit to 3-2 when he converted a cross-ice pass from Zibanejad at 6:49 of the third on a power play. After Zuccarello’s pass went awry out of the Lightning zone, Lundqvist retrieved the puck and sent it up the ice to Zibanejad. It was the third assist this season for Lundqvist.
The Swedish goalie made a dazzling save with six minutes left in the third, denying Callahan on a breakaway with a right pad save.
The 31-year-old Zuccarello has points in his last seven games — with five goals and eight assists in the stretch — and the trio of Kreider, Zibanejad and Zuccarello has 35 points combined over the last seven games in which all three have played.
Domingue made eight saves in the first period, including two stops on Ryan Strome on a breakaway. Domingue stopped the original shot, the blocked Strome’s rebound attempt. He also stopped Kreider from in close in the last minute of the third.
Domingue started after Andrei Vasilevskiy blanked the Islanders 1-0 in a shootout win on Friday night. He improved his record to 17-4-0.
NOTES: D Marc Staal played his 812th game with the Rangers, passing Jim Neilsen for fourth place on the franchise list for defencemen. Only Harry Howell, Brian Leetch and Ron Greschner played more games on the Rangers blue line. … The Rangers scratched D Tony DeAngelo for the second straight game. … Tampa Bay’s leading goal-scorer Brayden Point was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. … The Lightning also scratched F Danick Martel and D Mikhail Sergachev. … The Lightning won the previous meeting, 6-3 at home on Dec. 10. The teams meet again on Feb. 27 at the Garden.
Lightning: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host Los Angeles on Monday night.
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Allan Kreda, The Associated Press