When the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers met last month, the Bolts were in the midst of what can only be considered a slump. That is compared to the dominance they’d grown used to in the early months of the season. They’d lost three of their last six games entering action. Wednesday night in New York? A different story.
Tampa Bay was in the midst of a fabulous stretch they hoped to make the greatest in franchise history. A win would earn them the longest Lightning winning streak ever at ten straight.
Dominant Opening Frame
It’s rare that the shots on goal aren’t telling of the game flow in hockey, yet Tampa Bay’s 14-8 advantage after the first hardly exemplifies just how dominant they were. After a brief feeling out process in the early goings, the Bolts began to get the pucks deep and lean.
Tyler Johnson’s line did exactly that for an entire shift before the Tampa Bay winger put one home. A Mikhail Sergachev blast nearly trickled through and in but went wide. The Bolts continued to force turnovers and were eventually rewarded.
The majority of the Rangers’ opportunities came on their power play, and when the Lightning’s unit got a chance, they made no mistake. JT Miller collected a partially blocked Nikita Kucherov slap-pass and had an empty net to put the Lightning up 2-0.
Flip the Script
The second period was essentially completely the opposite, however the Rangers were even more dominant than the Bolts in the first. They simply manhandled the Lightning in this frame, and it didn’t take long to get started. Mika Zibanejad got the Rangers on the board just 56 seconds into the second. He was was the beneficiary of a great setup from Jimmy Vesey and provided an equally pretty finish over the top of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Rangers were ignited by a fight between Yanni Gourde and Pavel Buchnevich, and a coincidental display of aggression from newcomer Brendan Lemieux, and cranked things up for the remainder of the period. From this point on the majority of the play was inside the Tampa Bay end.
After Dan Girardi put the Lightning back up by two just 1:57 after the Rangers got on the board, it would’ve been easy for New York to roll over. Instead, they responded even quicker. Just thirty seconds later. Jimmy Vesey continued his strong period scoring this one. The Rangers proved they weren’t backing down, and Tampa Bay’s slightly lazy defensive efforts cost them at times throughout this game.
Finally, the Rangers were able to tie the game when three Lightning defenders got caught sleeping in front of the net and Boo Nieves put it home.
Penalty Trouble, PK Prestine
The disaster that was the second period was highlighted by taking four penalties. The Lightning took six on the night. The penalty kill came up huge. In fact, Tampa Bay went 6/6 on the PK on the night. Vasilevskiy was fantastic to prevent the second period from being a lot worse-which it absolutely could’ve been.
While the third period wasn’t as lopsided as the middle stanza, the Rangers put some serious pressure on late. An Anthony DeAngelo blast just missed wide with Vasilevskiy cheating the wrong way in the dwindling seconds. The Bolts survived, and we’d need overtime.
The first grade-A chance of overtime went to Victor Hedman, who was all alone but stoned by Alexandar Georgiev. Second time was the charm for Hedman however, who ripped it over the glove to with less than two minutes to go in OT for a 4-3 win. It wasn’t pretty, but a tenth straight win is a tenth straight win, and for the Lightning, a benchmark for unparalleled success.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Jimmy Vesey- 1 G, 1A- Vesey was responsible for two goals, with an incredible setup on Zibanejad’s tally.
- Mika Zibanejad- 1 G- Zibanejad got his 27th of the year and easily could’ve had more. He was all over the ice in continuing a fantastic season.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy- 33 saves- They say every team’s best penalty killer is their goalie. Vasilevskiy was tonight. Six times.
The Lightning will travel to Boston for a divisional clash with the Bruins Thursday at 7:30 PM ET.
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