Game 39: Tampa Bay Lightning versus New York Rangers

The Lightning's Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov attempt to defend against Rick Nash of the Rangers during Sunday's 4-3 loss. - Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

A sloppy and lethargic effort in the second of back-to-back games finds the Lightning falling 4-3 to the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Sunday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Sunday night.

For the second night in a row, the Lightning looked sloppy and out of sync throughout most of the game, resulting in a loss that wasn't quite as close as the score would indicate.

"We played one good period and that's not enough in this league. We have to get back to pushing the pace and keeping the puck moving forward and give ourselves a chance. We've got injuries in the line-up but they don't cause the turnovers. We just didn't play well." - Lightning forward Martin St. Louis

The Rangers got things started when a wrist shot from Rick Nash beat Bolts goalie Anders Lindback at 4:30 of the first. Derek Stepan was credited with the lone assist.

The Lightning tied it up at 10:41 on a power play goal from Tyler Johnson who was assisted by Teddy Purcell and Valtteri Filppula.

They took the lead just over five minutes later, thanks to Ondrej Palat beating Henrik Lundqvist with helpers from Radko Gudas and Jean-Philippe Cote.

That lead lasted just over two minutes as the Rangers tied the game at 18:25 on a power play goal from Mats Zuccarello on assists from Derick Brassard and Ryan McDonagh.

The period ended with the teams tied at two.

What followed was a fairly disastrous second period for the Lightning, marked by poor passing, an ineffective penalty kill and generally being out of sync with one another.

The Rangers reclaimed the lead at 4:35 when Chris Kreider caught defenders Victor Hedman and Radko Gudas standing flatfooted, skated right past them and scored a power play goal, assisted by Zuccarello and McDonagh.

They doubled their lead when Brassard and Zuccarello fed Benoit Pouliot for yet another power play goal at 7:51, capping a perfect night with the man advantage for New York. Three Lightning penalties, three Ranger power play goals.

The Rangers carried the 4-2 lead into the second intermission.

The Lightning cut into that lead at 8:14 of the third when Filppula scored with help from Purcell and Dmitry Korobov, but would get no closer, ending on the wrong end of the 4-3 decision.

"That was the old ‘work smarter not harder'. I think the guys worked hard, but we didn't work very smart to be honest. I don't think I've seen us mismanage pucks more in 39 games. It's something we haven't really done all year and it was disappointing to see the way we managed the puck in the first two periods." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

The Lightning will now set out on a four-game road trip to cities in western Canada. Their next game is Wednesday when the visit the Vancouver Canucks. They return home on Thursday, January 9th to host the Washington Capitals.

Game notes:

  • This was the first regulation loss in in the second half of back-to-back scenarios for the Lightning this season. Their record is now 4-1-1 in those situations.
  • Martin St. Louis's six-game points-scored and four-game goal streaks end tonight.
  • The Lightning and Rangers will meet for the third and final times this season on January 14 at Madison Square Garden, having split the two games played in Tampa.
  • After establishing franchise highs for wins in October (8) and November (8), the Bolts seven wins in December fell one short of equaling the mark for most wins in that month.
  • Tonight's attendance was 19,204, the third consecutive sellout at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.X
  • The Lightning honored Paul Whiting Sr. as the 20th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the New York Rangers. Whiting Sr., who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Academy Prep of Tampa, Lightning Crozier Fund at Tampa Prep, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Frameworks and WEDU. Whiting Sr. is a humble man who would never admit to anyone all of the incredible work he has done to better the Tampa Bay community. He launched the Academy Prep Center of Tampa, a private middle school for students that qualify for need based scholarships. The Academy Prep's purpose is to provide students from low-income homes a better education. His commitment has laid the foundation for hundreds of young adults to get a quality education, with an emphasis on preparation for college. A true believer in the strength of a good education, Whiting Sr. has committed himself to being a guiding force in the academic lives of hundreds of students, including strangers and extended family members alike. As an active member in the Tampa Bay community, he is adept to recognizing and forging partnerships between charitable organizations. Whiting Sr. also was one of the founding board members of the Florida Aquarium.
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