Game 25: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning

The New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4 to 2 in front of a sell-out crowd of 19,204 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

It's the third loss in a row for the Lightning and the fifth consecutive win for the Rangers.

Once again, the Lightning were unable to get a complete, consistent 60 minutes of effort. Why this keeps happening is the big mystery surrounding this team, especially coming after a stretch of four games where the issue seemed to have been resolved.

"It’s a question of urgency, reliability, sticking with the plan. It’s not there." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

"We played two good periods, just a little let down in the third period something that happened more than once this this year. We have to give them credit, they played really well in the third, but for our part, we simply have to play better." - Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon

Steve Downie

got things started, scoring on a rocket of a shot from just inside the blue line at 1:24 with assists from

Steven Stamkos

and Teddy Purcell. The period was marked by lots of Lightning activity right in front of Rangers goalie

Henrik Lundqvist

. The Lightning were outhit 8-7 but carried a 10-9 advantage in shots taken during the period which ended 1-0.

The Lightning maintained that presence in the crease to open the second period and nearly doubled the lead at the six minute mark. Somehow, the puck stayed out of a wide open net and the Rangers tied the score at 6:38. Ruslan Fedetenko scored the equalizer with help from Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan.

Tom Pyatt gave the Bolts back the lead at 17:42, carrying the puck in from the blue line and scoring with assists from Dana Tyrell and Nate Thompson. It looked like Lundqvist might have been anticipating a pass to defenseman Victor Hedman who was trailing the play from the right wing. In what is becoming an unfortunate trademark of the season, for whatever reason, the Lightning seemed to back off on their offensive pressure and stopped attacking about halfway through the period. They did find themselves with the puck deep in the New York zone in the last minute of the period but couldn't get a shot off. The period ended 2-1, Tampa Bay despite being outshot 13-7.

The sense of urgency seemed to be gone when the Lightning returned to the ice for the start of the third period. The Rangers tied it again on a goal by Artem Anisimov with an assist by Derek Stepan at 6:16 of the third after the puck was stolen from Marc-Andre Bergeron in the Lightning zone. The Rangers took the lead for the first time and for good at 16:41 when Stepan scored on helpers from Anisimov and Ryan McDonagh.

There were only two penalties called all night, one on each team and the Lightning went on the powerplay for the first and only time at 16:58 when Callahan was called for hooking. However, the Lightning couldn't seem to get organized and pulled goaltender Garon to get a six-on-four advantage in the final seconds of the penalty. Brad Richards, with an assist from McDonagh, finished things off shortly after the penalty was killed with an empty net goal scored with 25.7.

"We wasted a game here. We had the advantage, 2-1 in the third period and we got a puck around our blue line with full pressure. We don’t put the puck forward and we’re soft and we give away the goal. There’s no excuse for that...Second period, we stopped shooting. There’s always a team that decides to lose before another one decides to win. What I mean by that is there’s always a team that changes their way of playing, whether they’re soft or they cheat or whatever and that’s what we did in the second period. We stopped shooting and stopped playing the perimeter. Slowly, they got a bit of life and even if we had a lead 2-1, you could smell that we were doing things that weren’t going to help us win those big games." - Boucher

The Lightning now head back out on the road for four games and will be back in action again on Monday, December 5th, against the Ottawa Senators.

Game notes:

  • Downie's goal in the first was the fastest the Lightning have scored this season.
  • The loss is the first this season for the Lightning at home when scoring first.
  • They also lost for the first time this season when leading after two periods.
  • Tonight was the first time this season the Lightning were not called for a penalty through two periods.
  • Martin St. Louis milestone watch: 493 career assists, 798 career points.
  • Teddy Purcell's assist on Downie's goal was the 100th point of his career.
  • Yet another milestone, longtime Lightning head athletic trainer Tom Mulligan celebrated his 1001st professional hockey game. Number 1000 was at Detroit Wednesday night.
  • The Lightning honored retired Marine Corporal Michael Jernigan as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game. Jernigan, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to his charity of choice, Southeastern Guide Dogs. While serving in Iraq, Jernigan fell under attack when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb, causing him to suffer loss of vision in both eyes, a crushed cranium and severe trauma to both his right hand and left knee. Miraculously, Jernigan survived and rather than lamenting his own physical disabilities, used the difficult experience as way to inspire others. Throughout a lengthy rehabilitation process, which has included dozens of surgeries, Jernigan never lost focus of the commitment and courage necessary to create a life of meaning in the face of enormous challenges. Painfully aware of his own struggle, Jernigan has used his experience to succeed in educating other American armed forces veterans about the use and assistance of guide dogs. His participation includes countless speaking engagements for veterans' groups, membership in the Blinded American Vets Foundation, as well as serving on the membership board of the MedVets Charitable Foundation. Through the latter organization, Jernigan has played a key role in providing free non-prescription preventative treatments for veterans who utilize the assistance of service dogs. The experience has proved invaluable in helping Jernigan confront the challenges he has faced to maximize the opportunities available to him, while also sharing them with others