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Game 21: Lightning gut out 2-1 thriller over Rangers

A Tampa Bay Lightning roster that might look more familiar to fans of the Syracuse Crunch played tough defense and eked out enough offense to beat the New York Rangers, currently the Eastern Conference's hottest team 2-1 in a game that featured spectacular goaltending on both ends.

The Lightning's J.T. Brown fires a shot during Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over the Rangers Thursday night in Tampa.
The Lightning's J.T. Brown fires a shot during Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over the Rangers Thursday night in Tampa.
Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 2-1 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.

You wouldn't want to call it a makeshift lineup, but with Tyler Johnson, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette, and Jonathan Drouin all out with injuries and Mike Blunden, Jonathan Marchesault, Luke Witkowski and Joel Vermin (making his NHL debut) all called up to fill in, there was definitely a (Syracuse) Crunch to the Tampa Bay Lightning roster.

They would face a Rangers team that came in on a nine-game winning streak, not having lost in regulation in 13 games, a streak dating all the way back to October 15.

"It's a huge win for us right now with the way things have been going. A Rangers team coming in, having won nine straight. It is a huge win. More importantly, the way we won." - Alex Killorn

"I liked a lot of things we did tonight. We spent a lot of time in their end, but didn't get enough for it. Part of that is on us and part of that is also on them. I give (the Lightning) a lot of credit. They defended well, they blocked a lot of our lanes and made it really hard for us." - Rangers head coach Alan Vigneault

Knowing what they were up against, the Lightning seem committed to a strong defensive effort early on, holding the Rangers without a shot until the 13:20 mark of the first period.

The Lightning would get on the board at 14:47 on a goal by Killorn, assisted by Valtteri Filppula.

They would carry that one-goal lead deep into the third when the Rangers tied it at 13:43, with Dominic Moore scoring unassisted thanks to an unfortunate turnover by Anton Stralman.

Earlier in the period, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop turned away a penalty shot from Chris Kreider at 3:51.

While there were not an abundance of shots taken by either team (28 for the Lightning and 21 for the Rangers), both Bishop and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had to make spectacular saves throughout.

Brian Boyle was whistled for Interference at 18:34 and 21 seconds into killing that penalty, Filppula intercepted a scuffed pass by New York's Ryan McDonagh in the defensive zone and fed it out to J.T. Brown. Brown gave it back to Filppula who beat Lundqvist to bury what would be the game winner.

"Yeah, it was huge. It was almost deja vu from the Florida game the other night; they get a power play with less than two minutes left but obviously the opposite outcome... It was a great shot from (Filppula) and the penalty kill came up big." - Bishop

The Lightning will be in action again Saturday night when they host the Anaheim Ducks.

Game notes:

  • This was the first of three meetings between the two teams, with two of the three to be played here in Tampa. The Lightning swept the three-game season series last year, outscoring the Rangers 15-7 in the process.
  • The Lightning are now 3-0-0 against teams from the Metropolitan Division so far this season.
  • Vermin wore number 47 and logged 10:14 of ice time during 13 shifts in his NHL debut. He registered one shot, one attempt blocked, one hit and won one faceoff (100%).
  • This is the 11th time this season the Lightning scored two or fewer goals (2-8-1) and snaps an eight-game losing streak under those circumstances.
  • Mike Angelidis was also called from Syracuse but was a healthy scratch. Matt Taormina was reassigned to the Crunch.
  • This is only the second time this season the Lightning have held the lead after one period.
  • The Lightning are now 6-0-0 when leading after two periods and 0-6-0 when trailing in that situation.
  • Stralman is now three games away from playing in his 500th NHL game.
  • The Lightning honored Mary Stephens as the ninth Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Stephens, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to SPCA. Stephens is a founding member of SPCA Florida, an organization that promotes the adoption of healthy animals, prevents dog and cat overpopulation and provides veterinary medical services for animals in the community. For twelve years, she fostered animals and assisted with Saturday adoptions at Publix. She also started a campaign to educate the public about the benefits of high volume spaying and neutering that raised $670,000 to build Polk County's only low cost public spay/neuter clinic. Since SPCA was founded in 1979, they have adopted more than 73,000 pets and their clinic has sprayed and neutered more than 117,000 dogs and cats. Tonight's Lightning Community Hero has expressed the core values of her organization through the efforts she has provided to animals throughout Polk County. Her vision is a Medical Center where spaying and neutering is affordable for all; an Adoption Center where all unwanted animals are provided exceptional care and a community without unwanted, abused or neglected animals.