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Lundqvist, Rangers hold down Sharks

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist makes a save against

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist makes a save against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period. (Nov. 23, 2014) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Rangers scored early goals. The Sharks attacked. And Henrik Lundqvist was in Vezina Trophy form -- even though he was not selected for the NHL All-Star Game.

Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist in the first period as the Rangers went muscle-to-muscle with the Sharks, and Lundqvist's 30 saves carried them to a 3-1 triumph at SAP Center late Saturday night.

Add it all up and the streaking Rangers concluded a three-game California sweep, edging the Sharks after dusting the Ducks and Kings back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday. They defeated the three California teams on the road in the same season for the first time in franchise history.

"It's not an easy environment to play in," coach Alain Vigneault said, "but we were able to find ways to win, that's what hockey all about."

It was their fifth straight win and 13th in 14 games.

Lundqvist won his 11th game in his last 12 starts and he became the first goalie to reach 20 wins in each of his first 10 seasons. Still, he was not named an all-star.

"I've been planning not to go, just spend time with family and recharge," Lundqvist said. "I feel like there's a lot of good goalies, competition is tough."

With the Rangers leading 2-0 at 4:24 of the third, Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, falling backward into the net, robbed Mats Zuccarello on a backhand about six inches off the ice with his glove, which appeared to be completely across the line. The ruling on the ice was no goal, and a lengthy review somehow supported the call.

"Puck's in the mitt, mitt's in the net," Vigneault said. "I'll let you use your common sense."

When Dom Moore went off for holding Joe Pavelski at 5:41, the Sharks cut the lead to 2-1. James Sheppard fired the puck off Lundqvist's left shoulder and Melker Karlsson sneaked along the goal line behind Marc Staal and shoveled the rebound in at the right post

Niemi was pulled with 90 seconds to play, and Rick Nash's empty-netter -- his 26th goal of the year -- with a minute left ensured the win.

The Rangers (24-11-4) were scrambling early, as the Sharks had four shots on Lundqvist and another four were blocked.

After withstanding the pressure, Martin St. Louis opened the scoring from the slot at 10:40, wristing in a pass from Kreider, who went to the box at 11:34 for interference.

The Sharks spent 90 percent of the man-advantage in the Rangers' zone. Brent Burns stopped two attempted clears and Lundqvist stopped three shots. He also got a shoulder on Patrick Marleau's rising shot with 1:13 left.

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