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Drury records hat trick as Rangers top Lightning

By Larry Fleisher

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Captain Chris Drury recorded his second

career hat trick and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots as the

New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2, on

Thursday.

Ryan Callahan and defenseman Marc Staal also tallied and Nikolai

Zherdev added a pair of assists for New York, which has won all

three meetings with Tampa Bay this season. The teams opened the

campaign with a two-game series in Prague, Czech Republic.

Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who

have lost two straight following a three-game winning streak.

Drury's huge night helped the Rangers bounce back from sub-par

showings against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the New

York Islanders two nights ago at home.

The loss to the Islanders was highlighted by an awful showing on

the power play, which saw the Rangers allow two shorthanded

goals. The Rangers, who have allowed five shorthanders, entered

this one with a power-play unit that ranked 29th in the league.

"We're aware of it daily," Drury said of the struggles on

special teams. "There are reminders of it everywhere, certainly

the other night with two shorthanded goals (against). It

doesn't get worse than that. It was nice to bounce back and get

on the board tonight."

On Thursday, the Rangers excelled with the man advantage, going

3-for-8.

"We put a twist into part of our power play, which obviously

caught our opponent off-guard," Rangers coach Tom Renney said.

The Rangers opened the scoring on Callahan's power-play tally

with 3:51 remaining in the period. Drury doubled the advantage

with the team's first shorthanded goal on a breakaway with 5 1/2

minutes to go in the second.

After getting goaltender Mike Smith to sprawl out in the crease,

Drury went to his right and fired the puck into the vacant net.

"I had a breakaway against him in Prague, and one last year

against Dallas, and I shot both times," Drury said. "When I was

going in, I was thinking, 'I'm not shooting, I'm 0-for-2.' I

wanted to make a move and see what was going to happen."

St. Louis halved the deficit just over four minutes later, but

Drury's power-play tally 35 seconds into the third restored the

two-goal lead.

Ryan Malone beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot at 7:58 to draw

Tampa Bay within 3-2. However, the Rangers answered 29 seconds

later, when Staal ripped a slap shot through traffic and past

Smith.

Drury capped his impressive effort with a empty-netter with 28

seconds left.

"We know full well that he's a timely goal-scorer, and he scored

big ones," Renney said. "This was a big night for us. It

wasn't just one, it was three. Without Chris in our lineup,

we'd still be out there."

The final goal came after the Smith got frustrated with Aaron

Voros and was given penalties for high-sticking and slashing.

"It's my job to stop the puck, and I definitely think the

emotions got the better of me there," said Smith, who stopped 30

shots.

Despite the loss, Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose was pleased with

the effort.

"It was great," Melrose said of his team's comeback attempts.

"We played hard, coming from behind and battling. The last two

periods, we outshot them and outchanced them."

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