Redden, Gomez lead Rangers to Prague sweep
Wade Redden is fitting in nicely with his new club, scoring a goal and setting up the winner as the New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday in Prague.
Scott Gomez's goal late in the second proved to be the winner at O2 Arena, giving the Rangers both wins in the Czech Republic games.
New York won by an identical score on Saturday, and the return match was similar, with the Rangers outshooting their opponents in the weekend games 80-40 overall.
"It feels good to chip in the goal," said Redden, who signed a $39-million US six-year free-agent deal with the Rangers during the summer. "It's going to be my intention to keep building throughout the season."
Over half of the Lightning lineup is new, and the team has performed like a group of players still getting to know one another. Tampa Bay was particularly lax in neutral zone coverage.
Veteran Olaf Kolzig was strong in net for the Lightning on Sunday, making 37 saves. Kolzig had played his previous 711 NHL regular season games with the Washington Capitals, dating back to 1990.
He proved particularly vexing for New York captain Chris Drury, who couldn't score on eight shots at the target.
Tampa Bay was outshot 15-3 in the first but led 1-0 at the intermission.
Adam Hall opened the scoring late in the period, deflecting an Andrej Meszaros shot between Henrik Lundqvist's pads.
New York finally solved Kolzig with Jussi Jokinen in the box early in the second. The Rangers moved the puck around effortlessly, and Redden snuck into the slot to convert a cross-ice pass from Markus Naslund.
In his first two games behind the Lightning bench, coach Barry Melrose is already showing signs of frustration.
"We don't compete," he said of the Lightning, who tied Los Angeles with an NHL-low 71 points last season. "We're too easy to play against. Until that changes we're going to have trouble. We have a lot of skill on our team, but skill means nothing if you don't work hard."
Naslund, who spent nearly 12 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks before signing with the Rangers in the off-season, scored in Saturday's game.
The Rangers nearly went ahead not long after, but Brandon Dubinsky, who scored the winner in the first Prague game, was foiled by Kolzig.
Redden started the play that led to the Gomez goal, with the forward at the side of the net for an easy rebound putaway.
Redden and the Ottawa Senators parted ways in the off-season after more than 11 seasons.
"Wade is a very calculated player, he's a very poised player," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "He's got a lot of patience. He can process things quickly and yet make it look almost too calm. He did it tonight."
There was end-to-end action for a spell in the second half of the middle frame. Kolzig slid over to make a pad save on Dubinsky, while No. 1 overall NHL draft pick Steven Stamkos just missed with a shot past Lundqvist's glove.
With the teams playing four aside with just under six minutes left in the game, Kolzig kept his team's hopes up with a save on Dmitri Kalinin's slapshot.
Stamkos took a penalty with under two minutes left, but Tampa Bay didn't give up. The Lightning had the puck deep in New York's zone in the final seconds, but the best chance rolled off captain Vincent Lecavalier's stick.
Both clubs will get a few days off before resuming their regular season in North America.
New York hosts Chicago at Madison Square Garden on Friday, while the Lightning receive a visit from Carolina the following night.
The Rangers were the designated home team for Sunday's game.
With files from the Associated Press