|TBL||2||1||0||0||1 (3 - 11)||4|
|NYR||2||0||1||0||0 (2 - 11)||3|
Christmas came early for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ryan Malone continued his hot streak, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
Malone, who entered the contest with points in 10 of his last 11 games, broke Henrik Lundqvist in the 11th round of the shootout and Tampa Bay earned a point for the seventh straight game with a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers Thursday night, while also moving into a first-place tie with division rival Washington.
The Lightning forward skated through the slot, hesitated, and wristed a shot off the inside of the right goal post to end the contest after goaltender Dan Ellis turned back eight consecutive New York shooters.
Ellis finished with 34 saves and stopped 26 of 27 shots through the final two periods to help the Lightning put together the team’s longest point streak of the season and the first seven-game stretch with at least a point since Nov. 3 to Nov. 19 of last season.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Ellis said. “We were really pushing for first place in our division and New York really played a great game, but we battled on, battled some more and we were able to come away with a big win.”
With the Atlanta Thrashers’ 4-1 loss to Boston earlier in the night, Tampa Bay jumped its division rival to join Washington in first place at the top of the Southeast Division standings with a franchise-best 45 points in 35 games. The Capitals ensured at least a share of the lead following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Penguins.
Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos each had goals in regulation for the Lightning, who became just the third team in the NHL this season to win 10 or more games both at home and on the road, following Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
The win helped the Lightning rebound from a 2-1 defeat in overtime to the New York Islanders just the night before. They improved to 5-2-1 in the latter half of contests on consecutive nights.
“Obviously last night wasn’t a game we were very happy with,” Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund said. “Our focus needed to be on tonight’s game, not last night or the next few days. The Rangers were playing well, and this was a big game for us.”
Tampa Bay has won 12 of its last 18 games, while New York has dropped two in a row after winning three straight in its previous three games.
Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, and erased a one-goal deficit in the third period to tie the score at three with under nine minutes remaining in regulation.
Former Lightning Ruslan Fedotenko and Alexander Frolov also had goals for New York in regulation. Lundqvist made 21 saves.
St. Louis made it 1-0 when he intercepted a pass at center ice, skated through the slot one-on-one towards Lundqvist, and wristed one into the top left corner to beat the Rangers net minder just two minutes into the opening period.
New York quickly turned things around, scoring twice within a span of 12 seconds to take a one-goal lead.
First, Fedotenko tied it when Ellis misplayed a bouncing puck, and Frolov put the Rangers up after putting in a loose puck following a scramble in front of the net.
“They had a lot of playing time in our zone, and it was an unfortunate turn of events there after we came out strong and got the lead, but for the most part we did a good job of keeping things to the outside,” Lecavalier said.
Stamkos drew the Lightning back even at 18:54 when St. Louis came up with another turnover at the left hash marks and left a drop pass between his legs for his Lightning teammate, who cashed in his 27th of the season.
“I happened to get on the ice at the right time,” St. Louis said. “I wasn’t trying to get into a particular position, but I just try to surprise them. Sometimes it’s not just the perfect shots, it’s the quick ones that go in.”
Lecavalier made it 3-2 at 14:42 in the second after tipping in a pass from Pavel Kubina from the top of the crease. Kubina centered the puck from along the end boards to his teammate, who shoveled in the feed to beat Lundqvist underneath the left pad.
“It felt really good,” Lecavalier added. “It was a great play by Kuby and I just basically put my stick down and he had the pass right there for me. Hopefully I can build on this and keep it going.”
Tampa Bay and New York traded a pair of goals through the first three rounds of the tiebreaker before 16 consecutive shooters were stopped at both ends of the ice. Malone made his count, giving his team points in the first two consecutive games of three on its current road trip.
|Martin St. Louis (14) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 TBL
|Ruslan Fedotenko (6) ASST: Brian Boyle (6)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Alex Frolov (7) ASST: Artem Anisimov (10), Chris Drury (2)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Steven Stamkos (27) ASST: Martin St. Louis (31)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Vincent Lecavalier (4) ASST: Pavel Kubina (9), Brett Clark (9)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Derek Stepan (10) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (14), Matt Gilroy (4)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||E. Christensen||V. Hedman|
|2||D. Stepan||A. Hall|
|3||M. Zuccarello||S. Stamkos|
|4||A. Anisimov||P. Kubina|
|5||B. Dubinsky||S. Gagne|
|6||B. Boyle||V. Lecavalier|
|7||M. Rozsival||M. St. Louis|
|8||A. Frolov||M. Ritola|
|9||C. Drury||D. Moore|
|10||M. Gilroy||T. Purcell|
|11||M. Staal||R. Malone|
|Pavel Kubina Tripping against Brandon Prust|
|Dan Girardi Tripping against Steven Stamkos|
|SA: 37||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 34||EV: 31 - 34|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .919||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 24||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 21||EV: 21 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .875||SH: 0 - 0|
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