Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
After a rough stretch, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist seems to have regained his form.
Lundqvist stopped 36 shots on Monday night to lead the Rangers past the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden. Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel and Mats Zuccarello scored to help the Rangers win their third straight game after losing three in a row.
Lundqvist has given up just four goals on 84 shots during the winning streak — including a 1-0 shutout at Detroit on Sunday — after allowing 20 goals on 113 shots during the previous four games. That stretch included giving up seven goals before being lifted after two periods in a 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars last Tuesday.
“I simplified my focus, I think, three games ago,” Lundqvist said. “It helps me be on my toes a little bit.”
Lundqvist added, “I just try to simplify everything and have a little higher readiness than before.”
He needed to be at his best against the Kings, who seemed to be a step faster from the start and controlled play for most of the first two periods while outshooting the Rangers by 22-9.
“They throw pucks at the net,” Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said. “You have to do a good job of controlling his rebounds, and we have to do a good job when there were some rebounds in front of the net, to clear that net.”
Lundqvist made two nice saves on the Kings’ leading scorer, Jeff Carter, in the first period. On the first, he made a pad save on a tip attempt, and then he stopped a short-handed breakaway with about a minute and a half to go.
After a giveaway by Kings goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, J.T. Miller chased down the puck in the right corner and sent a pass to Zuccarello in the right circle. Zuccarello fired it past Zatkoff for his ninth goal of the season at 6 minutes 40 seconds of the third period to make it 3-1. It was Zuccarello’s first goal since Dec. 15 at Dallas, and it extended his points streak to six games.
“Scoring is maybe the final product,” Vigneault said of Zuccarello, “but he’s set up a lot of guys for goals, and he’s played real hard at both ends of the rink.”
Zatkoff was later pulled for an extra skater, and the Kings’ Kyle Clifford cut the deficit to 1 with about one second left on the clock.
Earlier Monday, the Rangers announced that forward Kevin Hayes, who is tied for third on the team in scoring with 35 points, would miss the next two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.