The Tampa Bay Lightning won their fourth straight game, beating the New York Rangers 5-3 at Amalie Arena on Thursday night. Rookie Center Anthony Cirelli had a goal & two assists while Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves, extending the home team's unbeaten streak to 9 games.
Twenty seconds into the game it looked like the Lightning would get on the board first when Center Tyler Johnson broke in on the left & took a shot that rebounded to Center Steven Stamkos who put the puck in. But it was ruled that Stamkos put the puck in with his hand. So with zeros on the scoreboard, the Lightning went on the attack again & just over two minutes after the disallowed goal, Center Cedric Paquette followed a shot from Left Wing Chris Kunitz & put a rebound past Rangers Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, giving Paquette his third goal of the year.
With that one goal lead, the Lightning continued to dominate play & even went on the power play for the first time in two games. But although they had quality chances, they were unable to take a two goal lead. That is until Left Wing Adam Erne took a backhand pass from Center Anthony Cirelli directly in front of Lundqvist & beat the Rangers netminder right through the five hole, picking up his third goal of season. And if not for Lundqvist robbing Johnson on another two on one break with Stamkos, the score would have been 3-0.
The Lightning went on their second power play of the game when former Lightning Center Vladislav Namestnikov was called for slashing. But Tampa Bay was unable to take advantage of another power play. And even after keeping the visiting Rangers from registering a shot on goal in the first ten minutes of the game plus outshooting the Rangers 21-5 in the period, the Lightning two goal lead was the best the home team could do after one.
It took nearly two minutes into the second period before either team registered a shot on net, but when the first shot was registered, it meant a 3-0 lead for the Lightning when Cirelli, who was camped in front of the Rangers net, redirected a shot from the point by Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev past Lundqvist for his second goal since being called up in February. But two minutes after killing off a power play, the Rangers were able to get on a board after Center Ryan Spooner followed up a strong rush & shot from Right Wing Kevin Hayes to make the score 3-1.
The Rangers had a chance to cut the lead to one when Right Wing Ryan Callahan was called for tripping but during their power play Center Mats Zuccarello was called for his own tripping penalty in the offensive zone. And after both teams got back to even strength, Left Wing Chris Kunitz made it a three goal Lightning lead again, after catching Lundqvist too far out of the net & putting the puck in the net for his 12th of the season.
Following that miscue by Lundqvist & after allowing four goals on 31 shots, the Ranger netminder was replaced by back-up Alexandar Georgiev. And after numerous quality scoring chances in the first period, Johnson finally got the puck into the net when after a rush by Sergachev & a shot by Right Wing Nikita Kucherov, Johnson from the side of the net, banged the puck off Georgiev for his 19th of the year & giving the Lightning a four goal lead.
The Lightning leading 5-1 to start the third period, like the first two periods, started the third dominating the shots on goals but after a bad Lightning change of lines, the Rangers were able to get a two on one break. And after a set-up from Spooner, Zuccarello snapped the puck past Vasilevskiy giving New York their second goal of the game.
After scoring their second goal, the Rangers kept the puck in the the majority of the third period but were unable to get their third goal until there was under three minutes left in the game, when Hayes redirected a shot from the point. But Hayes' goal ended the scoring for the night.
Tampa Bay, 8-0-1 in their last nine games, will look for its fifth straight win overall when it hosts the Montreal Canadiens this Saturday at 1 pm. Coverage begins at 12:30 pm on 970 WFLA.
1. TBL - Paquette 3rd goal (Kunitz, Callahan) - 2:31
2. TBL - Erne 3rd goal (Cirelli)
1. TBL - Cirelli 2nd goal (Sergachev, Killorn) - 1:53
2. NYR - Spooner 11 goal (Hayes, Fast) - 7:10
3. TBL - Kunitz 12 goal (Cirelli) - 12:35
4. TBL - Johnson 19 goal (Kucherov, Sergachev) - 17:30
1. NYR - Zuccarello 11th goal (Spooner) - 3:27
2. NYR - Hayes 19th goal (O'Gara) - 17:41
1. NYR - Kreider (Delay of Game) - 3:14
2. NYR - Namestnikov (Slashing) - 11:20
3. TBL - Sergachev (Interfernce) - 17:28
1. NYR - Gilmour (Holding) - 3:05
2. NYR - Callahan (Tripping) - 7:36
3. NYR - Zuccarello (Tripping) - 8:27
4. TBL - Stamkos (Holding) - 15:04