This game wasn't spectacular by any means. Shots tell a lot of the story, since the Rangers outshot the Lightning 37-24, and usually that's the other way around. Tampa Bay just looked mentally tired.
It was a remarkably penalty-free game, however. I'm not sure if it was played more cleanly than usual, or if the on-ice officials decided to mentally check out completely for the game, but only two penalties were called. There was one penalty called for each team. Naturally. I suppose the world would end if referees actually called a game as it really happened, instead of trying to make things like power plays "even" between teams.
Regardless, as much bad press as the Lightning goaltending has been getting for most of this season so far, Dan Ellis had a very good game. The first goal he let in wasn't the best; I felt he didn't play his angles right for that, and that created a gap for the puck to go in. But after that he was solid - especially in the shootout when he and Henrik Lundqvist put on a goaltending clinic.
They all had their moments, but no one player was consistently good for the entire game. Martin St. Louis had an outstanding first half of the game. Steven Stamkos had a good first period. Vincent Lecavalier had a good second half of the game, as did Mike Lundin. And Victor Hedman is apparently a fantastic goal scorer in the shootout - who knew?
After that, though, I felt that some players were just invisible. Simon Gagne was awfully quiet all game long, as was Ryan Malone - despite him getting the game-winning goal in the shootout. Sean Bergenheim kept a low profile, too - but he was hit in the face by the puck early in the game, so that probably contributed to his lack of anything.
And, Cedrick Desjardins has been a fantastic backup for his first two career NHL games thus far.
The Names did what they're supposed to, and scored the game's goals. St. Louis got the first one, Stamkos the second, Lecavalier tied it up, Hedman kept the shootout going, and Malone finished the game off for the Lightning. It might've been nice had Gagne figured into that somehow, but that's alright - a win's a win.
Despite the Lightning not having one of their better days, the important part is that they won. And they are now currently sitting atop the Southeast Division. Temporarily, at least. The Washington Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout tonight, and the Atlanta Thrashers to the Boston Bruins. Tampa Bay and Washington are tied for points and wins, but the Lightning have played fewer games than the Caps, and have fewer losses overall, so that's why they're ahead in the standings.
The NHL is taking a two-day break for Christmas, and games start back up again on Sunday. The Lightning will be traveling to Atlanta to play the Thrashers Sunday as well, and game time is 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will open at 6:30 pm.
Thank you for reading, and we here at Raw Charge hope that everyone has a safe and happy Christmas holiday.
Lightning vs Rangers coverage [SB Nation]
Blueshirt Banter [SB Nation]