Tonight, the New York Rangers looked to continue their recent string of good play as they welcomed the Tampa Bay Lightning into Madison Square Garden for the first time this season.
Tampa was coming off a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night so it was extremely vital that the Rangers jumped on the opportunity and got off to a fast start.
The start wasn’t exactly what New York was looking for, as Tampa had a good chunk of sustained offensive pressure in the Rangers’ zone. Shortly after however, the Blueshirts pushed back and got some chances of their own. The best one coming when Rick Nash lofted the puck ahead for leading goal-scorer Chris Kreider, who tried to complete his patented forehand-backhand move, but he was denied by the pad of Ben Bishop, who played his first game tonight coming off an injury to his wrist. After this chance, the floodgates unlocked, and the game opened up. The two hockey clubs traded chances back and forth and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needed to make a sequence of great saves to keep the game scoreless. After a faceoff win in Tampa’s zone, captain Ryan Callahan picked the puck up behind the net, and swung it in front for Brad Richards, who finished off the play and notched his 12th goal of the season, giving his team a 1-0 lead in the process. A little bit before time expired to end the period, Brian Boyle was coming in hard on the forecheck and finished his hit on Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. He was a little shaken up on the play and was slow to get up, but he made his way to the bench under his own power. No penalty was given on the play. The buzzer sounded to signal the end of the first and New York was holding onto a 1-0 lead over a good team from the Sunshine State. The Rangers out shot the Lightning 11-9 in the period.
Heading into the middle stanza, things seemed to be looking up for the Rangers, but when it rains it pours. After Callahan was sent to the penalty box for a questionable high sticking call, Hedman ripped a shot from the point past Lundqvist to tie the game at one. Then, off the next face-off, Nikita Kucherov broke in all alone and slipped the puck through the legs of Henrik, making it 2-1 Lightning in a matter of nine seconds. This took all life out of the building, and deflated the Rangers. There was no scoring for the rest of the period as both teams battled hard but Tampa had the upper-hand heading into the third period. New York needed to increase their play significantly if they wanted to continue their winning streak and push it to four games. The Rangers, again, out shot the Lightning by a margin of 12-10
After digging themselves a hole in the second, the Rangers found it very tough to knot the game at two during the third. They had a majority of the scoring chances but Bishop stood stall when it mattered most and he would be the ultimate downfall for the Rangers. New York also had two powerplay opportunities in the final period but they could not cash in as the struggle to find the net made itself present. The seconds ticked away and the Lightning escaped New York with a 2-1 victory. The Rangers out shot the Lightning 11-6 in the final period and 34-25 for the game. Lightning net minder, Ben Bishop stole the game for his team tonight.
Final notes: In my opinion, the Rangers didn’t play horrible, they actually played pretty well. If it wasn’t for Bishop, this game could have easily been 3 or 4-1 in their favor. They had a good first period and had a chance to win the game. If it weren’t for the complete mental lapse during the second, this could have been two points heading in the Rangers’ direction. Instead, they walk away empty-handed.
The Blueshirts are off tomorrow then come back to The Garden on Thursday to face-off against the Detroit Red Wings.
|11:55||NYR||Brad Richards (12) Wrist shot – ASST: Ryan Callahan (10), Carl Hagelin (8)||1 – 0 NYR|
|01:10||TBL||PPG – Victor Hedman (10) Slapshot – ASST: Martin St Louis (24), Teddy Purcell (20)||1 – 1 Tie|
|01:19||TBL||Nikita Kucherov (7) Wrist shot – ASST: Radko Gudas (12), J.T. Brown (5)||2 – 1 TBL|
2- Valtteri Filppula
1- Ben Bishop
Here are my personal three stars from tonight’s game: