There was an air of personal redemption after the loss to the Bruins. The Lightning showed up to prove themselves, and they did through their stout penalty kill and a variety of scoring. The Bolts seemed cohesive on both sides of the ice and played confidently with the lead. Though at times a bit careless with defense, the Lightning improved on some recent issues, such as faceoffs and the penalty kill.
Down the stretch the Bolts have seemed at times a bit lifeless, and it was refreshing to see the club come out strong on the second half of a back-to-back. Rather than simply coasting into the playoffs and flipping the switch come round one, the Bolts need to use these last few matchups to continue to grow. They showed that tonight, albeit against the rebuilding Rangers. Now for the west’s best Nashville Predators this Sunday and the ultimate contest for the Atlantic Division crown Tuesday against the Bruins.
On top of their strong offensive showing, Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue played solidly as well, stopping 27 saves on 31 shots. He has looked confident in front of a Tampa Bay defense that is sometimes porous.
J.T. Miller and Dan Girardi both scored against their former club. This was Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller’s first game in Madison Square Garden while wearing opposing colors. The Rangers premiered a tribute video of the duo, along with other recent Ranger Dan Girardi. (The trio even mentioned having difficulty finding the visitor’s locker room.)
1st Period 1-0
The Lightning’s opening minutes looked promising with some sustained pressure, but the Rangers soon grabbed hold of the game. This was brief though, as the Bolts fought back to dominate for the majority of the period. Unfortunately, the Rangers would be the first get on the board off a goal from defender Brady Skjei. The shot itself was redirected.
The chances were definitely there for the Bolts too, including a shot by Brayden Point of the crossbar and a missed opportunity for Anthony Cirelli in front of the goal mouth.
Rangers up 1️⃣-0️⃣, courtesy Brady Skjei. pic.twitter.com/UGw3wnuknL— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 31, 2018
Later in the frame, Steven Stamkos, surprisingly leading the team in penalty minutes, found himself in an altercation with Pavel Buchnevich after a trip on Nikita Kucherov.
2nd Period 2-1
The Bolts came out swinging, grabbing two goals within the first few minutes of the period. They amassed quite a lot of scoring chances, but quite a lot of penalties as well. Cedric Paquette scored while making some noise in front of the net while Alex Killorn notched a goal off his own rebound.
The Rangers went on their first powerplay half way through the frame after Girardi inadvertently tripped Jimmy Vesey while defending an odd-man rush. Soon after, the Rangers again rushed down the ice in a similar situation only to be stopped on a huge stretch save by Domingue.
An interference call on Neal Pionk would turn the game to four on four. The Rangers went back to the powerplay briefly after as former Ranger J.T. Miller hooked former Bolts Vladislav Namestnikov. But just moments later, Namestnikov went to the box for interference and so the game again wound up with some open ice. A messy sequence by both squads, no doubt.
The Lightning closed out the second on the powerplay as they found themselves with one less roughing penalty after a brief scrum between Yanni Gourde and Kris Kreider.
3rd Period 7-3
The beginning of the third was more of the same for the Bolts as goals by Miller, Paquette, and Point took this game out of the Ranger’s reach. Rangers forward Filip Chytil closed the gap just slightly with his first career NHL goal. Later Kreider grabbed a garbage time goal off of some careless play by the Bolts.
Here’s a mess of goals. All in all, solid play, and let’s get to the post-season already.
Have to double check, but I believe Stamkos passed Kubina for 3rd most games played in Lightning history tonight. Trailing only Marty and Vinny now— Dustin Stauffer (@dustinstauffer2) March 31, 2018