Game 8: Tampa Bay Lightning versus New York Rangers

New York's Brad Richards takes aim at Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon while being defended by Keith Aulie. - Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

The Lightning see their five-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the New York Rangers, losing 3-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday night.

The New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3 to 2 Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum

Sometimes when you're watching a good team that seems to be doing everything well, it's easy to forget that other teams are good too. And when the good team you've been focusing on comes up short, the first reaction might be to try to figure out what went wrong, when the answer might be as simple as "other teams are good too". The New York Rangers, even with a mediocre record, possess enough weapons to be considered one of those good teams.

The Lightning didn't look tired, in spite of this being the second of back-to-back games. They didn't suffer any systemic breakdowns. Sure, they only scored one power play goal... but New York only committed one penalty.

"We pushed as much as we could. We gave everything we had. It was anybody's game. We were expecting a very tight game. They are good defensively. That's why they're viewed as a top team in our conference. We knew exactly what we were getting into tonight." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

The two teams notched a scoreless, penalty-free opening period, with both goaltenders, Martin Biron for the Rangers and Mathieu Garon, both looking extremely solid. Biron would go on to stop 30 of 32 shots while Garon turned away 27 of 30. .

When the Rangers' Stu Bickel drew the game's first penalty, a two-minute hooking call at 3:16 of the second, the Bolts' red-hot power play made them pay, with Steven Stamkos scoring at 4:22 thanks to assists from Matt Carle and Martin St. Louis.

Later, The Lightning found themselves shorthanded when Stamkos was whistled for hooking at 7:42. They killed it off but just afterward, New York tied the game when Derek Stepan scored with help from Taylor Pyatt and Carl Hagelin at 9:50.

It briefly looked like B.J. Crombeen had regained the lead for the Lightning at 13:04 but the goal was waved off immediately due to a high stick. The Lightning also had three two-on-one opportunities but were unable to convert.

The score was 1-1 heading into the third.

At 3:04 of the third, Rick Nash used his size and agility to get in close and score on a great individual effort. Brad Richards and Marc Staal contributed assists

Hagelin scored on an assist from Pyatt at 14:47 to put the Bolts behind by two.

With Garon pulled for the extra attacker, Stamkos found the back of the net at the 19:39 mark, Carle and Ryan Malone providing assists. Unfortunately, the Lightning were unable to notch the equalizer after the ensuing face-off.

The loss, Tampa Bay's second of the season, ends a five game winning streak as well as a nine-game streak at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Still, Tampa Bay earned eight out of the 10 points at stake during the season-long five-game homestand.

"Well yeah, you look at the big picture and if you said we would have taken eight out of a possible ten points, you take that all the time. It's just frustrating because we realize the team that we have here and no one goes into a game expecting to lose." - Stamkos

"Obviously, that's a good thing, but I think everyone is still disappointed about tonight. It was a good, hard-fought game. We felt we had some chances to put the puck in the net and didn't and it ends up costing us. They put theirs in, we didn't so it's a tough loss right now. But we know we better go and focus on that next game and make sure we come back ready to play." - Lightning forward B.J. Crombeen

The Lightning will now head out on a four-game road trip and will be in action again on Tuesday when they take on the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Game notes:

  • Stat of the night? The Lightning won 59% of their even strength faceoffs, but were 0-for-1 on the power play and 1-for-3 shorthanded.
  • This was the only regular season meeting between the Rangers and Lightning.
  • Tonight's two goals is a season low for Tampa Bay, who came into tonight's game as the NHL's highest scoring team..
  • Stamkos has registered points in every game this season.
  • In-game 20th Anniversary celebrations honored former Bolts and current Rangers coach John Tortorella and forward Brad Richards.
  • The Lightning are now 1-1-0 in the second half of back-to-back games.
  • Once again, the Lightning sold out the Tampa Bay Times Forum while there was a monster truck show taking place at Raymond James Stadium. Pundits questioning the viability of hockey in "non-traditional" markets are undoubtedly perplexed.
  • The Lightning honored Dr. Robert Ettleman as the 20th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the New York Rangers. Dr. Ettleman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Gulf Coast Dental Outreach. Understanding that hundreds of low income families were hit hard by the economic down-turn years ago and couldn't afford basic dental care, Dr. Ettleman decided to do something about it. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2005 and no longer able to practice dentistry, Dr. Ettleman founded Gulf Coast Dental Outreach two years later, offering non-profit dental work for low income adults in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties. For only $25, patients receive preventative treatment, such as hygiene visits, crowns, dentures and other procedures every Friday in a rented state-of-the-art dental office. In the five years that Dr. Ettleman's clinic has been open, 4,000 people have benefitted and utilized the services, saving nearly $1.3 million in reduced-cost dental assistance. Despite his own personal adversity, Dr. Ettleman remains hands-on in giving people care. He keeps the doors open at very inexpensive rates for adults and families that are experiencing job loss, difficult financial circumstances and poverty.
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