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Bruised and beaten Bolts fall short in the Big Apple

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning had won five straight over the New York Rangers entering Tuesday night, where they were rather short-staffed by the end of things. Not too long ago, the Bolts and the Rangers were Eastern Conference finalists. Squaring off for a berth in hockey’s ultimate competition. Now? A different story. 

The Bolts opened up a five-game road trip, and this was the first of a back to back. The Bolts were already without Anthony Cirelli entering the game.

An ode to the past

The opening minutes looked like an intense battle between two equally talented hockey teams. Not only did the Rangers dictate the pace for much of the early goings, but we had some fisticuffs as well. Patrick Maroon and Michael Haley dropped the gloves giving the game ever more a playoff feel. Maroon would leave the game, putting the Lightning further short handed.

Short a forward, short a defenseman.

Soon after Victor Hedman exited the game and would not return due to an unspecified injury. The Bolts were short three regulars on the road, including Cirelli.

Deadly mistake

The Rangers really did control the tempo of the game for the majority of the opening frame. They had the better scoring chances, and the Lightning didn’t sustain any lengthy zone time for an extended period. Howeveer, they ended that stretch with a goal.

Brayden Point caught New York on a bad line change after the Bolts had the Rangers hemmed in their own end for an entire shift. A nifty pass from a fresh-legged Point to Nikita Kucherov, and he made no mistake in making it 1-0 Lightning.

One-sided

The Rangers started the second period on a power play, and the momentum gained on the man-advantage was substantial. Though New York didn’t score, they spent most of the first few minutes of the frame in the Tampa Bay end. They barged out of the gates to a 7-1 shot advantage in the second.

Stay out of the box

The Lightning learned rather quickly that piling up the penalties was not going to end well. Sometimes, in a game where a team is doing everything but score, all they need is a little puck luck. That’s exactly what the Rangers got on a power play in the second period. Kaapo Kakko fired one from the circle, Andrei Vasilevskiy made the stop, but it went off Braydon Coburn, who was standing in the goal mouth, bouncing into the net and tying the game 1-1.

Not short-handed, not a problem

When the Bolts were able to stay out of the sin bin, which was a rarity in the second period, they leveled the playing field shot-wise and played some good hockey. We headed to the third period as we started: tied.

Tight checking

In the opening moments of the third, nobody wanted to flinch. It was clear both teams didn’t want to make a mistake leading to a game-changing goal.

The floodgates open

Just minutes later, things opened up and the teams began to trade quality looks. Vasilevskiy shut down Brady Skjei on one of the best looks after an errant Kevin Shattenkirk pass.

Chink in the armour

Leading up to the 13-minute mark of the third period, Vasilevskiy was a wall. Finally, a brilliant deflection from Filip Chytil beat the Lightning netminder to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Falling short

The Bolts very nearly tied the game in the waning moments. Mikhail Sergachev cranked one off the iron, and New York thrived in transition. Adam Fox buried a goal on a rebound during a 3-on-1 rush to make the score 3-1.

The Rangers would add an empty netter and take this one by a 4-1 final.

Our three stars of the game

  1. Alexandar Georgiev – 29 saves
  2. Andrei Vasilevskiy – 38 saves
  3. Adam Fox – First career NHL goal

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