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Lightning-Rangers: Rewinding Tampa Bay’s second back-to-back win

Nikita Kucherov is NHL’s first to 80 points. The Lightning is good in back-to-backs. Steven Stamkos already beats last year’s total.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) tends net against Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) tends net against Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Published Feb. 3, 2019

An emotional, shootout win on Friday may have slowed the Lightning down Saturday, but Tampa Bay held off the Rangers on Saturday in a 3-2 win.

At least this one ended in regulation.

“We felt a little tired today, coming off a big emotional win with huge intensity in the last game against the Islanders, with the late start tonight,” Steven Stamkos said. “We were on our heels from the beginning. But we did a good job in the second, of establishing the lead, and we hung on.”

Goaltender Louis Domingue played a big part in hanging on. He made big saves early as the Lightning found its legs. Then he came up big again late as the Rangers pushed.

“When you win a lot of games throughout the season, you’re going to win in different ways,” Stamkos said, “and you just have to be comfortable in winning different ways.”

Some odds and ends from the Lightning’s 3-2 win over the Rangers:

First to 80. Nikita Kucherov set a Lightning record for being the fastest player in franchise history to reach 80 points. Kucherov did it in his 52nd game, beating Vincent Lecavalier's 60 games in 2006-07.

He’s the NHL’s first player to 80 points for the second year in a row (last year, he finished third in the league with 100 points). The last player to reach 80 first in consecutive seasons was Sidney Crosby in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Lending a hand. Kucherov notched his 58th assist (80th point) of the season in Saturday’s game. He has logged at least one assist in 37 of the 52 games this season.

Keeping the streak alive. The Lightning won its third-straight contest in Madison Square Garden on Saturday, while taking away its fourth-straight win against the Rangers overall.

Winning on back-to-back nights. Taking away a shootout win against the Islanders on Friday and a 3-2 win against the Rangers on Saturday, the Lightning have improved to a 4-2-0 overall record in the second game of a set on back-to-back nights. This was the third time Tampa Bay has swept a back-to-back series this season.

Strength at the net. Louis Domingue brought home his ninth-consecutive start win and improved his season record to 17-4-0. Domingue stopped 31-of-33 shots in Saturday’s matchup against the Rangers.

The captain leads by example. Steven Stamkos has logged 20 goals since Dec. 1, notching more goals through 52 games this season than he did in the 78 games he played in last season (in which he only scored 27). Stamkos leads the NHL for goals since Dec. 1.

All but one. With Erik Cernak’s goal against the Rangers on Saturday, all but one player on the team (forward Danick Martel) has scored a goal.

Can you beat a player? No, not at hockey. The Rangers are one of the teams to do “faceoff trivia.” A fan and a player are asked to name as many of one category in 15 seconds (players on video). On Saturday, the fan named 12 NHL quarterbacks and Kevin Hayes named 10.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.