The Tampa Bay Lightning (39-11-2) are the first team in the league to 80 points after knocking off the New York Rangers (22-22-7) 3-2 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Playing the second game of a back-to-back and following up a thrilling goalie battle against the Islanders on Friday night, the Lightning wasted no time getting on the board in this one. Yanni Gourde scored at the 6:51 mark in the first period to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead. In the second period, Erik Cernak broke through with his first career NHL goal at the 4:41 mark before Steven Stamkos netted his 28th goal at the 8:33 mark of the second to take a 3-0 lead.
The Rangers began to push back from there, as Mats Zuccarello scored at the 16:17 mark of the second period to end the Lightning's shutout bid. New York pulled within one at the 6:49 mark of the third as Kevin Hayes scored on the power play but that would be as close as the Rangers would get.
Louis Domingue got the start in net in place of Andrei Vasilevskiy as it was the second game of a back-to-back and was outstanding, coming up with 31 saves on 33 shots. Henrik Lundqvist went 20-for-23 in net for the Rangers in the losing effort.
The Lightning now return to Tampa to begin a three-game homestand. That stretch begins on Tuesday night as the Bolts battle the defending Western Conference champion Las Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM, and the game will be heard on 95.3 WDAE and AM 620 because of the President's State of the Union Address on News Radio WFLA.