Lightning Fall To Rangers 5-2
Malone, St. Louis Score In Losing Effort
Special team play and New York Ranger forward Chris Drury combined to bring the Lightning’s four game point streak to an end tonight as the Bolts lost to New York, 5-2, at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers scored three times with the man advantage and once with a man short, and Drury nailed a hat trick, producing two of the power play goals and one shorthanded.
Tampa Bay delivered a determined effort against the Rangers, but could not battle back from repeated deficits, as they did last evening against the Devils in New Jersey.
The penalty box was occupied early and often, beginning at 9:54 of the first period when Ryan Malone
fought Ranger tough guy Aaron Voros in a spirited free-swinging battle. Evengy Artyukin was the next penalty box occupant when he was called for hooking. The Rangers took advantage of the extra man situation to open the scoring at 16:09 when Ryan Callahan put a pass from Nikolai Zherdev into the net behind Lightning goaltender, Mike Smith
Smith, starting his third consecutive game, made several sharp saves in the first period to limit the Ranger advantage to one goal. With Steven Stamkos
off the ice for delay of game late in the period, Smith was called on to make two great saves on Ranger forward Colton Orr, who had the puck alone at point blank range in front of Smith’s crease.
With seconds remaining in the first, the Lightning came close to tying the game when Gary Roberts stole the puck deep in the New York zone. His pass to Chris Gratton resulting in a good scoring attempt, but Henrik Lundqvist, the New York goaltender, smothered the puck as the buzzer sounded.
While Smith was effective in net for the Lightning, Lundqvist was at least his equal in the Ranger end, stoning shot after shot as the Lightning sought to tie the game early in the second period. With four minutes gone in the period, Gratton took advantage of a Ranger line change to break in alone on Lundqvist, but his shot went wide. Moments later, Adam Hall
’s shot from just outside the crease to Lundqvists left was kicked away.
The Lightning finally got their first man advantage when Zherdev was sent off for cross checking at 13:13 of the second period, but Drury turned the tables when 1:10 seconds into the power play he gathered in a pass that had hopped over Paul Ranger’s stick and cruised in alone on Smith for the Ranger’s first shorthanded goal of the season.
With the team down 2-0, the Lightning seemed to double their efforts to battle back, and the hard work paid off when Martin St. Louis
fought off Dan Girardi and backhanded a shot over Lundqvist. For St. Louis, the goal was his third of the season and second in as many games. Vaclav Prospal and Marek Malik got assists.
Just as the hard-fought second period came to a close, Malik was whistled for interference, so the Lightning, down 2-1, had to begin the final stanza skating a man short.
With just 35 seconds elapsed in the third, Drury netted goal number two with a shot from the slot off a perfect pass from Scott Gomez. The goal made the score 3-1 and Tampa bay faced the task of closing a two goal lead with less than one period remaining to be played.
They came close. Ryan Malone
’s third goal of the season, a power play score at 7:58, cut the Ranger lead to one. Mark Recchi and Martin St. Louis
assisted on the score.
29 seconds later the Rangers restored their two goal advantage and effectively put the game out of reach when Marc Staal’s shot from the blueline weaved through the traffic in front of the crease and eluded the screened Smith.
The Lightning made a determined effort to battle back, but a plethora of penalties, beginning with Malik and Recchi both sent off at 16:35, doomed their chances as they were forced to skate shorthanded for practically the remainder of the game. In all, the Lightning were called for 25 minutes of penalties in the third period, including a five minute fighting penalty doled out to Mike Smith
, who took on Voros in front his crease with 1:41 seconds remaining to play.
Drury completed his three goal effort with just 28 seconds remaining in the contest, to make the final score 5-2.
As would be expected in a game which saw a total of 56 penalty minutes assessed, the hits were plentiful. Tampa Bay established a new season high in that department with 38, led by Mark Recchi with six.
The Lightning will get a day to regroup before the five game road swing passes the halfway point, Saturday night in Philadelphia, against the Flyers.
|Three star selections