Game 28: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
The Tampa Bay Lightning ended their five-game losing streak by beating the New York Rangers in a shootout 3-2.
There were two big storylines with this particular game. One was that Martin St. Louis missed the game with a broken face. Thankfully, as of last night, his eye seems to be alright. He will be evaluated in Tampa today.
Because of that, the Lightning played without St. Louis for the first time in 500 regular season games, ending his ironman streak at 499 games. As Lightning fans know, Marty is a big part of the team, and to lose him with such stupid luck just had to be a real wakeup call. So this game was probably considered by the players as being rock bottom.
The fans considered rock bottom to be a while ago, but that's another story.
The Lightning played with far more determination and grit than they have in a long, long time. They pulled together, and tried to make it work. Which it did - sort of - in a penalty-filled game. I guess with all of the low-penalty games lately, the Lightning were just saving up.
Which leads us to the second big storyline of the night: Artem Anisimov and his rifle-shooting goal celebration move.
Say what you want about him, but I think Vincent Lecavalier did the right thing in going after Anisimov. As others would agree, even Steve Yzerman during his tenure with the Detroit Red Wings would've done the same. It was an impulsively disrespectful move by Anisimov, and the captain of the team has to set an example. There's absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for your team; if I'd been in Lecavalier's skates, I would've done the same.
Another impulsive move by Steve Downie - who may or may not have left the bench, depending on how the league will interpret that - was also a bad idea. Even in an ambiguous situation, like making a line change after a goal, players still need to be careful. It's far too easy in this day and age to get a penalty and put your team down a man.
The third big story of the night, which is getting swept under the rug due to the Anisimov story, is Dominic Moore. Frankly, I didn't expect him to play very well since it was his backhanded shot that hit St. Louis in the face at pregame skate. But, not only did he score the game tying goal in the third period, he also scored the game winner in the shootout. That probably doesn't make him feel better about what he accidentally did to St. Louis, and I don't think anyone but himself blames him for that, but he did play a good game.
The Lightning were on the good side of the stats sheet this time around. They outshot the Rangers 31-30 (Lecavalier had five shots), they won 56% of the faceoffs, (Adam Hall won seven out of nine, or 78%) they out-hit the Rangers 26-25 (six players had three hits each), and they blocked more shots as well - 23-18 (Eric Brewer had six blocked shots). Unfortunately, they also had more penalty minutes than the Rangers as well, 34-30 PIM, giving New York two more power plays. Despite that, it was a much, much better effort all the way around.
The next game is Saturday, 10 December, at the Philadelphia Flyers. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. Come join us on the game thread, which opens at 6:30 pm.