The Tampa Bay Lightning face the long plane ride home tonight without any points to show for their Prague, Czech Republic sojourn after falling for a second time to the New York Rangers, 2-1.
The two games with the Rangers were remarkably similar from a statistical standpoint, with the Lightning again coming up on the short end in the shots-on-goal column, 39 to 19. The score, too, was the same, 2-1 Rangers, and the story for the game, too, is similar, with both netminders, Olaf Kolzig for Tampa Bay and Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. standing on their head to make saves when needed.
The Lightning could muster only three shots on Lundqvist in the first period, but each resulted in a quality scoring chance. Early in the initial stanza, Evgeny Artyukhin put on the jets and burst passed the Ranger defense, but Lundqvist blocked his scoring attempt. The effort led to a penalty on Brandon Dubinsky for boarding, the first of five power play opportunities which the Lightning would fail to convert.
Despite the low shot total, Tampa Bay skated off the ice after the first period with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Adam Hall’s first score of the season. Hall crashed the net and scooped up the rebound from a Andrej Meszaros shot and deposited the puck behind Lundqvist. Chris Gratton was also awarded an assist, his first point of the season, on the Hall goal.
The Rangers came back to tie the game early in the second period with Jussi Jokinen in the penalty box for the Lightning. With Jokinen off for tripping, Wade Redden, with assists from Markus Naslund and Scott Gomez, scored past Kolzig. It was the only power play goal by the Blueshirts in four extra-man opportunities.
At the 12:12 mark of the period the Rangers took the lead for good with an even-strength goal by Scott Gomez off a rebound of a shot by Wade Redden. The score marked the first goal of the season for Gomez but his third point overall and second of the game. Redden got his second point of the game with the assist and Aaron Voros also was credited with an assist.
Kolzig faced 18 shots in the second period alone and 39 for the game total, making 37 saves. Many were of the highlight reel variety as for the second night in a row, Tampa Bay enjoyed a stellar performance by their goaltender, first Smith and now Kolzig.
Tampa Bay came roaring out for the final period and dominated play but could not solve Lundqvist to get the tying goal. The Lightning held the Rangers without a shot until only
5:30 remained in the game and reversed the shot trend of the previous two periods, outshooting the Rangers by a 10-6 margin.
Despite three power play opportunities in the third period, Lundqvist was equal to everything the Lightning threw at his net.
A hooking penalty to Steven Stamkos with only 57 seconds left to play negated the extra skater advantage which the Lightning had with Kolzig on the bench. Still, Vincent Lecavalier had a great chance to send the game to overtime but the puck rolled off his stick in front of the Ranger net, and with it rolled away any chance for the Lightning to take home a point.
For the second game in a row, Andrej Meszaros led the Lightning with over thirty minutes of total ice time, and Lecavalier led the team in shots, with three. Notably, Martin St. Louis, owner of the Tampa Bay goal in the first game, was held without a shot on net.
The Lightning now return home from the Czech Republic with memories, but no points, as they seek to regroup over the next six days before facing the Carolina Hurricanes in their home opener, October 11th.
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYR