Game 23 recap: Lightning edge Rangers 4-3

On the occasion of former Lightning all-star Martin St. Louis's return to Tampa Bay for the first time since demanding a trade last spring, it was Ryan Callahan, the player the Lightning acquired in exchange from the Rangers, who stole the show with two goals and an assist.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 4-3 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Wednesday night.

In the last few days, the fact that there was a hockey game between two NHL teams was almost completely drowned out by all the hype surrounding one player's participation in it. Of course, that's kind of understandable; it's not every day that one of the most universally loved and admired players in Lightning history, a key, contributing member of the revered 2004 Stanley Cup champions, returns to the arena where he created so many cherished memories. But enough about Dan Boyle already. Let's talk about what happened during tonight's game between the Rangers and the Lightning.

And what a game it was! The sellout crowd of 19,204 was treated to a back-and-forth affair that was a bit more intense than you'd expect between non-conference opponents in November.

"I thought it was a great atmosphere to start the game. That first period, the place was rocking... It was fun. It was nice to get our fans a win" - Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop

A pretty lame (to be honest) interference call against New York's Mats Zuccarello gave Tampa Bay the first power play of the night at 4:39 Steven Stamkos cashed in at 5:25 with the familiar one-timer from the right circle. He was fed on the play by Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan. Callahan was just getting started.

At the 9:00 mark, the Rangers tied it up when a Lightning turnover gave the puck to Rick Nash. He passed to Zuccarello who scored the equalizer.

Just over two minutes later, the Rangers took the lead on a power play goal scored by Dan Boyle at 11:04. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard offered assistance.

The Lightning tied things up again at 17:34 with another power play goal, on the front end of double minors being served by Rick Nash for a pretty nasty high hit on Ondrej Palat. Callahan did the honors this time, from Jason Garrison and Stamkos.

The 2-2 tie held through the end of the first period.

At 10:17 of the second, Tampa Bay regained the lead with the only goal scored during the period. Stamkos skated the puck around the Rangers net and found Callahan in front for his second goal and third point of the night. Alex Killorn was credited with the secondary assist.

With the Lightning carrying the 3-2 lead into the third, they actually earned some breathing room when Nikita Kucherov scored at the 9:38 mark, a goal that was initially reviewed for a possible kicking motion, but held up. Tyler Johnson and Matt Carle chipped in with assists.

Breathing room disappeared exactly three minutes and eleven seconds and several consecutive icing calls against the Lightning later, when Nash scored unassisted to narrow the margin back to a single goal.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop benefited from one of the Lightning's better all-around defensive showings this season with the Rangers frequently encountering difficulty entering the Tampa Bay zone, at least at even strength. Bishop only faced 19 shots, turning away 16 of them. On the other end of the ice, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 of the 29 shots he faced.

The Lightning were able to hold off the Rangers last attempts to rally in the closing seconds, helped tremendously by a a cross checking call against New York's Chris Kreider which negated any efforts to pull Lundqvist for the extra skater.

"It is always something you can build on, especially at home. These are the games at home that get you into the playoffs, when you have those leads going into the third period. It's something we have to continue to work at and build at, but I thought it was a good win for us." - Callahan

Throughout the game, former Lightning all-star Martin St. Louis, making his first appearance at Amalie Arena since demanding a trade to the Rangers last spring, was booed every time he touched the puck, similar to the treatment that Washington's Alex Ovechkin receives when the Capitals are in town. There was a tribute video on St. Louis's behalf shown on the scoreboard during a timeout in the first period that received something of a mixed reaction from the crowd, although it was mostly cheers when the words "THANK YOU, MARTY" were displayed.

"Yeah of course, when he jumped on the ice there, that was good acknowledgment by the fans. It was just like being at the Garden a week and a half ago when the same thing happened to Callahan. You heard the boos come out when he had the puck and when they gave him the video tribute, they gave him a big roar, which was very appreciative. I am sure Marty felt the same way in this one." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper

St. Louis, who said he was "expecting the worst, hoping for the best" yesterday in a press conference, said he understood the booing.

"Yeah, they were expected, but I understood they care. They are great fans. They care."

The Lightning will be in action again on Saturday night when they host the Ottawa Senators.

Game notes:

  • The Lightning are now 13-0-0 in games when Callahan scores a goal, a streak dating back to his acquisition last March.
  • The Lightning's four-game streak of posting exactly 28 shots per game was broken tonight with the 29-shot effort.
  • Stamkos now sits just two goals shy of 250.
  • Killorn's career best points-scored streak was extended to six games, while his four-game goals streak came to an end.
  • Bishop has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his past seven games.
  • Callahan has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games.
  • Tonight's assistant captains were Anton Stralman and Callahan.
  • Scratches for the Lightning were Eric Brewer, J.T. Brown and Jonathan Drouin.
  • Two wrongs don't make a right, folks. During a moment of silence to honor Pat Quinn, who passed away on Sunday, someone yelled "LET'S GO RANGERS!!" and was immediately shouted down with "SHUT THE (expletive) UP!!" Not to get preachy here, but there's more than enough time for that kind of thing once the puck drops. It shouldn't be difficult at all to have enough class to control yourself and show some respect long enough for what literally takes a moment.
  • The Lightning honored Ross Anderson as the 12th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Anderson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Men of Vision, Hillsborough Education Foundation, and The Skills Center. Hearing the silent cry for positive male mentorship from young men living in some of the roughest parts of Tampa Bay, Anderson decided to leave the lucrative lifestyle of a corporate executive to become a teacher and pour confidence, hope, integrity, and success into the lives of young males from the inner city. One year into his tenure as a teacher, he started a mentorship program called Men of Vision to further help the cause. Under Mr. Anderson's direction, Men of Vision has been commissioned to recognize and develop constructive leadership along with emphasizing acceptance of individual responsibility as the basis of personal success, community improvement, and group achievement. Since 2008, Men of Vision has helped over 500 young men graduate high school and advance to college, trade school, or employment. Anderson's selfless efforts have been appreciated by many. In addition to being named tonight's Lightning Community Hero, Anderson has been recognized with many community acknowledgements including the Tony Dungy Honorary Award (2014), the Hillsborough County Human Rights Award (2014), and was featured twice on FOX 13's "What's Right with Tampa Bay".
  • On behalf of everyone here at Raw Charge, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!