NEW YORK — Vinny Lecavalier on Sunday made the same fist-pumping gesture he usually does after he scores a goal, but even the Lightning captain agreed it was with more gusto.
That's what happens when you regain some self-esteem and help your team win at the same time.
Lecavalier's goal, on the power play and off a booming one-timer 2:40 into the third period, gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
And it came one period after his offensive-zone turnover led to Brandon Prust's shorthanded breakaway goal that tied the score 1-1.
"I felt bad," Lecavalier said. "It doesn't matter who scores, but to get it back, really good."
The Lightning (37-18-7), with its third straight win and four-game series sweep of New York, should feel good about gaining two points in what coach Guy Boucher called "probably our worst game of the year."
That might be a bit harsh as New York's ferocious forecheck made finding skating and passing lanes difficult.
Still, Tampa Bay was outshot 23-19, allowed the Rangers 15 puck takeaways and lost 65 percent of faceoffs, including 12 of 16 on the power play.
Yet it found a way to win.
"And that," Boucher said, "counts for something."
What counted was how Lecavalier upped his game after Brian Boyle stripped him of the puck and Prust scored 9:42 into the second period.
Prust might not have had a clean shot on goaltender Dwayne Roloson had Lightning defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron not fallen. But Lecavalier took the blame.
"I wanted to get (the puck) back to the D because (Boyle) came on me," Lecavalier said. "I wasn't sure which side to put it on, and that's the fraction of a second I lost. I was mesmerized by doing something and froze."
"Character guy," Boucher said. "He was first to blame himself. After that, I knew he was on a mission."
Lecavalier has been playing well for a while.
And his 15th goal, which beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist to the long side from the right faceoff circle during a five-on-three power play left wing Marty St. Louis called a "must-score" situation, was his seventh in nine games.
He also has 15 points in his past 12 games.
"I'm skating a lot better," Lecavalier said.
""You just gain confidence. You start to see the ice more. You just put it on net, and things have been going in."
For St. Louis, too. His 24th goal and an assist gave him four goals and nine assists in a nine-game points streak.
Roloson made 22 saves, including two off of scrambles in front of the net in the final 30 seconds. And defenseman Eric Brewer broke up a potential breakaway with 3:26 left as he barely took a pass away from Ryan Callahan.
"It was a good road win for us," defenseman Randy Jones said. "It shows that we're learning and that we're closing out these close games. It's a sign of maturity."
Like Lecavalier's fist pump.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 24 (Downie), 5:04. Penalties—Brewer, TB (cross-checking), 1:03; Hedman, TB (tripping), 13:43; Downie, TB (roughing), 19:34.
Second Period—2, N.Y. Rangers, Prust 10 (McDonagh, Boyle), 9:42 (sh). Penalties—Zuccarello, NYR (tripping), 4:42; Christensen, NYR (interference), 8:39; Dubinsky, NYR (high-sticking), 11:59.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 15 (St. Louis, Purcell), 2:40 (pp). Penalties—Girardi, NYR (boarding), 1:11; Boyle, NYR (delay of game), 2:04; Dubinsky, NYR (interference), 4:22; Clark, TB (holding), 13:12. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-5-7—19. N.Y. Rangers 4-9-10—23. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 6; N.Y. Rangers 0 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 18-19-2 (23 shots-22 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 25-21-4 (19-17). A—18,200 (18,200).