Steven Stamkos scored his way into the Lightning record books with another strong performance.
The second year forward tallied his fourth consecutive multi-point game while becoming just the fourth player in team history to record at least a point in 13 consecutive games, tying the franchise mark.
Stamkos scored 15:33 into the first period, albeit in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Sunday, in which Steve Downie also had a goal for Tampa Bay.
“It just seems like we all bring something different and unique to the line. Obviously I just try to utilize my speed and my shot, and Downs [Downie] does everything else,” Stamkos said.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves and Erik Christensen scored twice, including the game-winner for New York, who won for the third time in its last four.
“Both of the teams are battling for a playoff spot, so we can’t make much more out of it than what it actually was - a big game for both teams,” Vinny Prospal said.
Prospal and Sean Avery each had a goal in the second period, sparking a rally down from an early 2-0 deficit.
“We’ve had a few bumps here,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said. “We’ve been in a lot of close scoring games and I think we’re getting better at playing defense, but you need to score some goals.”
Stamkos put Tampa Bay up 1-0 with his league-leading 15th power play goal on a shot from the point that deflected off a Rangers stick before knuckling into the back of the net.
The 2008 first overall pick was just warming up.
Stamkos set up Downie’s goal less than two minutes later when he wristed one from the high slot that deflected off Downie’s stick out in front and through traffic before sneaking past Lundqvist for a two-goal lead.
“He goes to the corner, goes to the net and scores the dirty goals,” Stamkos said of Downie, who extended his career-high point streak to seven games. “Everything just seems to be clicking.”
“We came out sleeping in the first 20 minutes. The Lightning came out fine after a big game on [Long Island] yesterday, and we just weren’t ready for them,” Prospal added.
Avery opened the middle stanza by scoring on a penalty shot, taking goaltender Mike Smith wide across the crease before lifting one right below the cross bar in the top corner of the net.
Prospal evened the score with a rebound between the circles at 6:07.
“We’re so close together for a playoff spot and that’s how we tried to take it into the second period [as a playoff game] because in the first we were horrible,” Prospal said.
Christensen gave New York its first lead of the game, sending a shot five hole through Smith from below the right circle, and padded the lead over a minute later with his second of the game.
Chris Drury iced the contest with his 250th career goal coming on an empty-netter with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
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