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Lightning, with new players making impact, take on hot Rangers

Mar 9, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Anthony Duclair (10) is congratulated after he scores a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Bolstering their roster while trying to secure a postseason berth, the Tampa Bay Lightning made a pair of moves before Friday’s deadline that paid immediate dividends.

Those two acquisitions — forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Mathew Dumba — will be back at it in their second outings for Tampa Bay when it hosts the New York Rangers on Thursday.

Dumba was paired with Haydn Fleury and turned in a solid performance after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes: He fought Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier, logged 20:04 of ice time and went plus-1 in the Lightning’s 7-0 rout of the visiting Flyers.

Duclair was thrust into coach Jon Cooper’s team on the second line, playing right wing with center Anthony Cirelli and left winger Steven Stamkos.

After being traded for the fifth time and appearing on his eighth NHL team, the Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native responded like he had been on the club since training camp, scoring once and assisting on a power play.

A member of the in-state rival Florida Panthers from 2020 to last season, Duclair said he was surprised to hear the “Duke” chants rain down in his new home.

“I heard the ‘Duke’ chants; it was amazing,” said Duclair, who was traded to San Jose in the offseason by Florida before joining the Lightning. “Never thought I’d hear it (coming from) Tampa Bay Lightning fans.”

After a bad 6-3 home loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday, Cooper did not want to talk about Duclair, who was acquired during the defeat. The coach did not hesitate after the walloping of Philadelphia.

“He came as advertised,” said Cooper, whose squad is 2-1-1 ahead of its homestand’s finale. “When he’s playing, he can add a dimension to our top six. He showed that tonight. (He and Dumba) were two guys who really helped us.”

In their third game in four nights (2-0-0) and fourth in six (3-0-0), the Rangers will be facing Tampa Bay, likely sending out sizzling goaltender Igor Shesterkin again in the middle match of a three-game road trip.

After Jonathan Quick made 19 saves at home to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Monday, the 28-year-old Shesterkin was dynamite in net and stopped 28 shots to record his second straight shutout in a 1-0 win at the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

He blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0 behind 26 saves on Saturday.

By holding Carolina scoreless for his third shutout, Shesterkin managed to register shutouts in consecutive starts for the fourth time in his career.

He has not been scored on since a 4-2 home loss to the Florida Panthers on March 4 when Ryan Lomberg’s third-period wrist shot caromed off defenseman Jacob Trouba’s skate — a span of 133:49.

“I think it’s more easy for me (protecting a 1-0 lead) because you concentrate more on the puck,” said Shesterkin. “And to be honest, today was my mom’s birthday, so I couldn’t play a bad game tonight.”

Coach Peter Laviolette praised the performance in the win over the Metropolitan Division-rival Hurricanes.

“They were awesome tonight,” said Laviolette, whose group owns a 20-10-4 road mark. “Traveling here and playing a team that’s playing as well as they are and (after) playing the night before, the guys really stepped up and played a terrific game. Heck of a win against a good hockey team.”

–Field Level Media

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