Michael Grabner pots hat trick; Rangers overwhelm Lightning

Michael Grabner scored three times as the New York Rangers cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NEW YORK — Michael Grabner scored three goals to lead the New York Rangers to a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.

Rick Nash, Jimmy Vesey and J.T. Miller also sacored to help the Rangers win for the fourth time in five games. Antti Raanta stopped 31 shots.

Nash, Grabner and Vesey scored in a span of 2 minutes, 19 seconds midway through the second period to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. Miller, who also had two assists, scored late in the second and Grabner added two more in the third to make it 6-0 with his third career hat trick. Kevin Hayes had three asissts.

Steven Stamkos spoiled Raanta’s shutout bid with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining, and Ben Bishop finished with 31 saves as the Lightning lost their third straight.

After a scoreless first period in which New York outshot Tampa Bay 16-10, the Rangers scored in a flurry in the second.

Nash broke through at 4:45 with his fourth of the season. Nash was sprung for a semi-breakaway by Nick Holden’s pass up the middle to start the sequence, and the New York winger snapped a shot which beat Bishop glove side.

Grabner increased the lead with a one-timer off Brady Skjei’s cross-ice feed as Miller screened Bishop at 6:42. On the play, Miller collided with with Bishop, which prompted Lightning coach Jon Cooper to use his coach’s challenge in order to see if there was goaltender interference. However, the video review showed Miller was bumped into Bishop by Valtteri Filppula.

Just 22 seconds later, Vesey scored his team-leading fifth of the season to push the advantage to 3-0.

Miller extended the Rangers’ lead with a tap-in with 1:50 left in the period.

Grabner’s breakaway goal midway through the third increased the lead to 5-0, and his tap-in off a pass from Hayes with 5:13 left capped his first hat trick since signing with the Rangers in the off-season. It was also his first since Feb. 13, 2011, while with the Islanders.

All of New York’s goals came at even strength. The Rangers were 0 for 5 on the power play, and Tampa Bay went 1 for 4.

NOTES: Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan made his season debut. Callahan, a former Ranger, had missed the Lightning’s first eight games as he recuperated from off-season surgery on a torn labral in his right hip. … Nikita Kucherov also played after missing Tampa Bay’s last game, a 3-1 loss to New Jersey on Saturday night, with an upper body injury sustained in the first period of the Lightning’s 3-1 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday night. … Prior to the game, Tampa Bay announced C Cory Conacher had been sent down to AHL Syracuse. Conacher had played in one NHL game this season, Saturday’s loss at the Devils. … The Lightning scratched D Matt Taormina and RW J.T. Brown. . Rangers LW Chris Kreider missed his fourth straight game with neck spasms. . New York scratched D Adam Clendening.

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