In a game where the building had that playoff-type feel, the Tampa Bay Lightning prevailed in a shootout to defeat the visiting New York Rangers 2-1 on Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
Following a goal by Alex Killorn on New York netminder Igor Shesterkin in the sixth round of the shootout, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped Rangers defenseman Adam Fox to put a bow on a very eventful evening at 401 Channelside Drive.
In the first game between these two teams since October 11th - the Lightning's season opener - and in the first matchup in Tampa since they squared off in the Eastern Conference Final last season, the fans were treated to an incredible game.
39 saves for Shesterkin.
45 saves for Vasilevskiy.
Only one goal for each team through regulation and overtime until the thrilling conclusion in the shootout.
The teams each had 12 shots on goal in the 1st period, but it was the visitors who were able to find the back of the net.
Following some sustained pressure in Tampa Bay's defensive zone, Mika Zibanejad found a puck in the high slot & rifled a slapshot past Vasilevskiy to open up the scoring at 12:45.
The Rangers quickly got a chance to double their lead on a Vitali Kravtsov breakaway just moments later, but Vasilevskiy came up with a huge blocker save.
New York had three clear breakaways on the evening, but Tampa Bay's Vezina-winning goaltender was able to come up big every time.
Late in the first period, Erik Cernak was hit in front of the Lightning bench by Rangers forward Sammy Blais and was slow to get up. As he rose to his feet he threw his stick down the Lightning tunnel in frustration and almost hit Tampa Bay netminder Brian Elliott. Cernak was hunched over for a few seconds at the tunnel's entrance before disappearing back to the Lightning locker room. He did not return and there was not an update after the game.
The Lightning thought they had tied the game in the 2nd, but Brandon Hagel's goal was disallowed after the replay showed that he used his hand to dislodge the puck from Shesterkin's equipment before it trickled into the net.
Shesterkin was a brick wall for the Rangers through two periods, but the Lightning were finally able to break through in the 3rd.
Brayden Point took a pass from the captain Steven Stamkos and was able to shovel the puck off of the New York netminder and in to tie the score at one apiece at 5:32.
After scoring two last night, Point now has 20 on the season and 10 in his last 10 games.
Point also scored in Round Two of the shootout to put the pressure on New York, but Artemi Panarin was able to score in Round Three to keep the Rangers alive for just a little while longer.
As Coach Jon Cooper said after the game, "It was probably pretty fitting it went to a shootout."
Not sure anyone would disagree with that one.
That was one heck of a game.
- New York - Zibanejad - (Unassisted) - 12:45
- Tampa Bay - Point - (Stamkos, Kucherov) - 5:32
- New York - Brodzinski - (Tripping) - 14:47
- Tampa Bay - Perbix - (Delay of Game) - 5:14
- Tampa Bay - Cole - (Holding) - 9:22
- Tampa Bay - Hedman - (Tripping) - 2:06
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Saturday night for their final game of 2022 as they welcome the Arizona Coyotes in to Amalie Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm.
PHOTO : Getty Images