Slow start dooms Lightning in 6-3 loss to Rangers
A flat start, a bad third, and some fights all add up to a loss.
The Tampa Bay Lightning tried to come back from an early three-goal deficit, but were shutdown in the third period by the New York Rangers and lost their first game of their road trip, 6-3. Alex Killorn scored on the power play while Brandon Hagel added two goals in the loss. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 37 shots in his first start after being named the player of the week by the NHL for his performance last week.
While there were some good things from the Lightning, they were engaged early in the game and made too many mistakes in the third period. A second period injury to Anthony Cirelli didn't help matters out either.
An early power play for the Rangers led to the opening goal. After Steven Stamkos was sent to the box for slashing, New York was able to set up in the zone. Ian Cole had the puck on his stick behind the Lightning net with the chance to clear, but his backhand pass went right to a Ranger and they kept it in the zone. Eventually, Vladimir Tarasenko sent a shot from the point that an unmarked Chris Kreider deflected home.
Chris Krieder (Vladimir Tarasenko, Mika Zibanajad) Power Play, 1-0 Rangers
Okay, not a great start, just regroup and get back to possessing the puck and build from there. Or, they could lose a puck battle in the offensive zone, collapse on the puck carrier entering their zone, leave Kaapo Kaako open for a shot on the wing that beat Vasilevskiy cleanly. Oddly, they chose the second option.
Kaapo Kakko (Filip Chytil, K'Andre Miller) 2-0 Rangers
A two-goal deficit isn't an impossible task to overcome, especially in today's NHL. However, the Lightning decided that they needed to spread the Rangers offense around. After Vasilevskiy made a pretty nifty save on a Tyler Motte shot, the Bolts failed to get the puck out of the zone and another shot from Motte beat Vasilevskiy, who appeared to try and punch it with his blocker and missed.
Tyler Motte (Barclay Goodrow, Brandon Schnieder) 3-0 Rangers
So much for the goaltender battle that we were anticipating. The Lightning went on the power play, and much like the Rangers, just needed a power play to get going. They won the face-off and a shot from Mikhail Sergachev was deflected past Shesterkin by Alex Killorn.
Alex Killorn (Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov) Power Play, 3-1 Rangers
So, that was a wild four minutes or so. Coach Cooper called it "shinny" when he was interviewed after the Killorn goal. Things did, in fact, settle down a little after the scoring spree and the period ended with a 3-1 score and the Lightning on the power play.
Ian Cole almost got them one back but his shot went off the post, and then Shesterkin made a nifty blocker save on Brayden Point right before K'Andre Miller went to the box for a highsticking call. Stamkos almost buried one right at the buzzer, but had his stick tied up in front of the net.
While they didn't convert on the remainder of the power play, the Lightning did grab the momentum a bit by getting back to what had made them successful during their recent run. Grind out possession in the offensive zone. The first five minutes were spend mostly in the Rangers and it eventually paid off.
Anthony Cirelli laid a big hit on the forecheck to free up the puck. Brandon Hagel used his body to shield off a Ranger and it allowed Killorn to bump a pass back to Darren Raddysh shot a puck that went off Brandon Schneider's stick and in for his first career NHL goal. Or, they ruled it went off of Hagel and so, much like his first career assist a few games ago, Raddysh had his first career goal wiped off the board.
Brandon Hagel (Darren Raddysh, Alex Killorn) 3-2 Rangers
Cool. The Bolts are back within a goal and playing well. As long as they don't break down defensively and allow a breakaway goal they'll be alright.
So entertaining in both good and bad ways.
Tyler Motte (Alexis Lafreniere, Barclay Goodrow) 4-2 Rangers
The Bolts almost connected on a power play with Adam Fox off for slashing, but Shesterkin denied Corey Perry on a breakaway.
He also stopped Cirelli a few minutes later, but couldn't stop Hagel on the follow-up. Umm, Alex, maybe not the greatest move to jab at the puck after the whistle like that. The Lightning ended up shorthanded after the fracas, but the goal counted for Hagel.
Brandon Hagel (Anthony Cirelli, Victor Hedman) 4-3 Rangers
It seemed that these two teams don't care for each other. There was a Pat Maroon/Ben Harpur dustup in the first period, the scrum after the Hagel goal and then Vincent Trocheck and Corey Perry exchanged some punches.
Ross Colton picked up a bevy of penalties after he jumped Schneider following a clean hit on Nick Paul at the Rangers' blueline. Colton was assessed a five-minute fighting major, an instigator, and a 10-minute misconduct. The league had mentioned that they wanted to crack down on fights following clean hits and they got Colton for it.
After allowing a couple of goals that he would like back, Vasilevskiy was on point in the third period.
The Lightning were pressing for the tying goal, but despite a couple of solid shifts in the New York zone, a combination of blocked shots and Shesterkin saves prevented them from tying it up and eventually, the Rangers got a couple past Vasilevskiy.
First it was Chris Kreider who was in the right spot to bang home a rebound off the post after Mika Zibanajad made a nifty between-the-legs move in front of the net.
Chris Kreider (Mika Zibanajad, Adam Fox) 5-3 Rangers
Then it was Artemi Panarin, who had been quiet most of the night, that whipped one in off the post while the Rangers were on the power play.
Artemi Panarin (Mika Zibanajad, Adam Fox) Power Play, 6-3 Rangers
One more fight between Perry and Harpur tacked on some more penalty minutes. Should be fun if these two teams somehow make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Anthony Cirelli missed a couple of shifts at the end of the second period and didn't play at all in the third. Would there have been a different outcome had he not been injured? Probably not.
The Lightning won't have long to dwell on this one as they take on the New York Islanders tomorrow.