SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Henrik Lundqvist is playing like an All-Star, even if he’s not recognized as one.
Lundqvist made 30 saves just hours after getting passed over for the All-Star game and the New York Rangers completed a rare California sweep by beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Saturday night.
”I want to be one of those guys, obviously,” Lundqvist said. ”I see myself as a guy that can compete against the guys that are there. At the same time, there’s a lot of guys having a strong season right now. For me, it’s more important to get the results right now.”
Chris Kreider scored one goal and set up Martin St. Louis for another for the Rangers, who have 13 wins in 14 games for the first time since 1973. That includes wins in a four-day span at Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose – the first time New York has even beaten those three teams on the road in the same season.
Rick Nash added an empty-net goal to seal it.
”It was a great answering of the bell,” Nash said. ”We talked about it for the three days before we came out here that this was going to be a gritty task and I thought we played great. It’s impressive to get these three wins. At the same point, it’s just three wins.”
Melker Karlsson joined Jeff Friesen as the only Sharks rookies to score goals in five straight games when he converted on the power play in the third period. Antti Niemi made 28 saves.
Even the return of Joe Thornton couldn’t help the Sharks, who were coming off a second 7-2 loss to St. Louis in a six-day span. Thornton missed four games with a shoulder injury and the power play looked impotent in his absence with one goal on 19 attempts.
San Jose looked sharp on its first power play against the Rangers in the first period, but couldn’t get anything past Lundqvist, who responded to his All-Star game snub by reaching 20 wins for a 10th straight season.
That’s the way it went for most of the night as Lundqvist was outstanding, including getting a piece of Joe Pavelski’s shot from alone in the slot midway through the second to keep the game 2-0.
”We didn’t finish our chances,” Pavelski said. ”We played hard, but it came down to a couple of things, execution on certain things.”
The Rangers missed a chance to add to the lead early in the third when Niemi made a spectacular glove save along the goal line to rob Mats Zuccarello. The play went under a lengthy replay review before being upheld to the dismay of the Rangers.
”Pucks in the mitt, mitt’s in the net,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. ”I’ll let you use your common sense.”
The Sharks then converted on the power play just minutes later when Karlsson knocked in a rebound of James Sheppard’s shot for the Sharks’ lone goal.
The game marked the return to San Jose for defenseman Dan Boyle, who became the franchise’s career leader in points by a defenseman in his six years with the Sharks. Boyle got a bloody nose on his opening shift and had to go to the locker room. But he was back later in the first for a video tribute that was followed by a long ovation and stick tapping from both teams.
”It was an amazing moment,” he said. ”It was just a minute long, but that’s going to stay with me for a lifetime.”
The Rangers took nearly 10 minutes to get their first shot on goal, but still ended up ahead 2-0 after the first period when they scored after faceoffs in the offensive zone.
Kreider set up the first when he tapped a loose puck to St. Louis, who knocked it in from the slot to make it 1-0.
Later in the period, Kreider tipped a shot by Dan Girardi on goal after a faceoff win by Stepan and then tapped in the rebound.
NOTES: Nash and Sharks D Brent Burns were picked for the All-Star game. … Friesen had his streak in 1994-95.