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Lightning ride tidal wave of offense past Rangers in return home

In their return home from the Global Series in Sweden, the biggest question facing the Tampa Bay Lightning turned out to be whether or not they could continue to ride the wave of positive momentum built up from sweeping the Buffalo Sabres in Sweden. With 16 of their next 22 at home, the Lightning played host to the New York Rangers in their first game after their Swedish adventure. In the teams’ previous meeting, the Rangers put up an impressive 4-1 win in New York that was more lopsided than the final score indicated.

However, history would not repeat itself on Thursday night. The Lightning continued to ride the wave from those two wins over the Sabres, carrying that momentum into a dominant showing against the Rangers at Amalie Arena.

Starting off with a four-goal first period, the Lightning (9-5-2, 18 points) buried New York under a wave of offense that propelled them to their third straight win, a 9-3 shellacking of the Rangers (8-7-2, 18 points). From start to finish, this was easily the Lightning’s most impressive showing of the season up to this point. Every facet of the Bolts’ game ran on all cylinders and this one wasn’t close. With that being said, lets take a look at some of the big takeaways from this game.

A wave of early goals set the tone for the night

Entering this contest, the Lightning scored the opening goal of a game only five times in their first 15 games. When notching the game’s first goal, the Bolts sported a 4-1-0 record. Well, against the Rangers, Tampa Bay went above and beyond.  In fact, they came close to making franchise history:

That’s not a typo, folks. The Lightning tallied three goals in 61 seconds, two of them on the power play. However, it was a goal by Luke Schenn that began the offensive wave. Following a faceoff win by Brayden Point, Schenn lobbed a simple wrist shot through a wall of humanity past Rangers goalie Alexander Georgiev at the 2:39 mark. While that goal set the tone, Tampa Bay’s aforementioned three-goal spurt started at the 5:41 mark. New York’s Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo each took separate minors penalties in the same sequence, leading to a rare two-minute 5-on-3 power play.

Alex Killorn wasted little time, tipping a shot by Nikita Kucherov past Georgiev just five seconds into the power play for a 2-0 lead. Only 39 seconds later, Kucherov got into the act when he zipped a wicked wrister past Georgiev for another power play tally. Not to be left out, Ondrej Palat got in on the act with this beauty off the rush:

That first period barrage featured a rare accomplisment

Three goals in 61 seconds is incredibly impressive. Four goals in the first 6:42 of a game is practically unheard of. It’s so rare that only five teams in the last 25 years have scored four goals faster than the Lightning did tonight.

The power play clicks on all cylinders

While the Rangers got a goal back late in the first off the stick of Chris Kreider, New York had no answers for Tampa Bay’s power play. On top of the two tallies with the man-advantage in the first period, they added to that total in the second period thanks to a sight we’ve seen countless times before.

Steven Stamkos blistered one of his patented one-timers from the left circle past Lundqvist at the 7:07 mark, putting Tampa Bay up 5-1. Stamkos is now just one goal shy of 400 in his stellar NHL career. Stamkos nearly picked up his 400th late in the second period, but Killorn tipped his shot past Lundqvist late in the second period for his second of the night to make it 8-1. In between those two goals, three other players continued hot streaks of their own.

The fourth line dominates and Kevin Shattenkirk dazzles

During the Global Series, the fourth line of Yanni Gourde, Cedric Paquette, and Pat Maroon imposed their will on the Sabres. Things didn’t change when the team returned from overseas. Gourde, who tallied one goal in the month of October, has now scored in four straight games (more on his goal later). He finished with a power play goal and an assist tonight. Maroon, who scored twice in the second game of the Global Series, increased the Lightning’s lead to 6-1 at the 10:19 mark of the second period.

If you recall the Lightning’s last game against the Rangers, Maroon got into a fight very early in the first period and didn’t return due to injury. Moments before scoring, New York’s Michael Haley tried to goad him into a fight, but Maroon ignored him, joined the rush, collected a pass from Shattenkirk, and beat Lundqvist for his fourth of the year. He celebrated by mockingly waving in Haley’s direction after the goal.

Just under four minutes later, Gourde and Shattenkirk joined the party when they combined for this gorgeous play to make it 7-1:

That’s Gourde undressing Brendan Smith before setting up Shattenkirk’s fifth of the year with a beautiful setup. After two periods, the Lightning held an 8-1 lead and Rangers head coach David Quinn took Lundqvist out and put Georgiev back in to start the third period.

A wave of fists followed the barrage of goals

Not only did this game feature wave after wave of Lightning goals, but we also got to see a couple of fights. In the final two minutes and change of the second period, Lemieux crashed the net and knocked Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy over. This sparked Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who dropped the gloves with the young Rangers forward. Lemieux got a few shots in early, but McDonagh earned the last laugh with one solid punch and a takedown, although if you called it a draw, I don’t think too many people would argue.

Soon after, DeAngelo and Maroon started chirping at each other, but it was Schenn and Haley who briefly threw down before wrestling to the ice.

The Lightning lock things down defensively, for the most part

For the game, the Lightning out-shot the Rangers 45-23, surrendering just five shots in the first period and eight in the second. Although the Bolts allowed a pair of third period goals to Filip Chytil, they kept things locked down in their own end when it mattered earlier in the game. And when the Rangers got a rare high-quality chance, Vasilevskiy was there to slam the door shut, most notably on a couple of excellent chances by Artemi Panarin in the second.

Tying franchise records for total goals and power play goals

At the 12:24 mark of the third period, Gourde notched his fifth goal of the season, a power play tally that made it 9-2. This goal turned out to be significant for a couple of reasons. The ninth goal of the game for the Bolts tied a franchise record for most goals in a game, set in a 9-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 8, 2003 at Amalie Arena. On top of that, the goal was the fifth power play goal of the night for the Lightning, tying the franchise mark for most PPG’s in one game originally set in a 6-1 win at Buffalo on March 19, 1995.

The Lightning return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host the Winnipeg Jets at 4 pm at Amalie Arena.

Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Nikita Kucherov – One goal and three assists

2nd Star: Alex Killorn – Two goals and one assist

3rd Star: Kevin Shattenkirk – One goal and one assist


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