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Rangers' St. Louis scores first goal of playoffs vs. ex-team

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Martin St. Louis is pretty fired up after tallying much-awaited first playoff goal in Game 4.Chris O’Meara/AP

Martin St. Louis is pretty fired up after tallying much-awaited first playoff goal in Game 4.

TAMPA — It took 16 games, but Martin St. Louis finally has his first goal of the playoffs, scoring inside the building where he had scored so many during his 13 years with the Lightning.

After yet another brutal performance for the first two periods of the Rangers’ 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, St. Louis finally connected on the power play on a one-timer from the right circle at 5:08 of the third period, set up beautifully by a cross-zone pass from Derick Brassard, to put the Blueshirts up 4-1. The proud veteran admitted after the game what was painfully evident to anyone watching him over the past month: he was pressing.

“As the games keep piling on and you get chances, of course you press. Any guys who tell you they don’t press, they’re lying,” said St. Louis, who hadn’t scored since April 6 in the regular season against Columbus.

“You squeeze the stick a little bit. But you’ve got to play the game. You can’t just try to get goals, you’ve got to play the game, 200 feet. You try to do that and sometimes you get rewarded. Tonight I did.”

Nikita Nesterov whacked St. Louis in the face with his stick and actually drew blood, although the Rangers were given only two minutes on their power-play opportunity. The sequence began with a splendid play by Dan Boyle — another former Lightning player who won the Stanley Cup with St. Louis and Tampa in 2004 — who made a great read and held the puck in the offensive zone. Boyle fed the puck to Brassard, who dove through the left circle, sucked in goaltender Ben Bishop and the Lightning defense and then fed St. Louis, who scored with plenty of available space in net. The former Lightning captain pumped his fist and let out a roar as Amalie Arena rang with boos.

“He had a great night,” Rick Nash said.

“It seemed like he was moving his feet, he was in on every play, second and third efforts, I thought he had a great game.”

“Brass makes a great play and I was able to put it on net,” St. Louis said. “You take it.”

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