The Tampa Bay Lightning are making the run for the final playoff spot interesting.
In spectacular fashion, the Lightning beat the best team in the National Hockey League on Friday night, and in the typical Tampa way, overcame adversity in beating the Rangers 4-3 in overtime on a Ryan Malone goal from the slot.
The win, along with the Washington Capitals losing big to the New Jersey Devils, meant the Lightning moved within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the east.
The Lightning were able to come from behind, scoring three unanswered goals after going down 2-0 early in the game. The fact that the Lightning were able to come back down 2-0 was a significant accomplishment in that the Rangers are not a team that gives away too many leads this year. Entering the game tonight, the Rangers were 26-0-3 when leading after two periods.
“From the first period really, I thought we really outplayed them,” Lightning forward Ryan Malone said. “We had some great chances, but obviously they have a great goaltender who made some big saves for them. Even though they tied it up late, we were just going to keep playing the game. All the new guys stepped in and played a great game. A lot of them don’t really know each other, but they just went out there and played some hockey. Good character guys and I think everyone in here from before kind of likes proving people wrong.”
The Good: The Start. Even though the Lightning trailed 1-0 after the first period, they came out flying early in the game, taking a 13-3 lead in shots. The Lightning were all over the Rangers, and if it was not for the stellar play of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, they could have had multiple goals in the first period.
The hot start continued in the second period, with the Lightning out shooting the Rangers 11-8 and eventually getting on the board with the Pyatt goal.
Brett Connolly: Connolly game has picked up quite a bit over the last handful of games, being much more assertive and driving to the net with the puck, and as a result, Connolly has been rewarded with more ice time of late, and in Friday nights game, had 9:33 of ice time.
Steven Stamkos: You could mention his name here almost every night, but the shot he got off on his 45th goal of the season was one of the better shots you will see in the game of hockey. Stamkos added an assist on the Teddy Purcell goal as well.
“There didn’t seem to be too much panic,” Stamkos said of the goal that tied the game for the Rangers. “Once they tied it late, we focused. We said lets get this point. We had known that Washington was losing by quite a bit at the time, so we knew we could gain some ground if we got the single point. But we were hungry for that second point. As soon as the final buzzer went, we were focused. We wanted to get it done in overtime.
The Bad: The Power Play: The Lightning had a chance late in the third period to put the game away in regulation when Carl Hagelin took a double minor for high sticking. As has been the case with the power play in many situations this year, they were unable to generate much on the man advantage.
Up Next: The Lightning head to Carolina for the second half of the back to back to take on the the Hurricanes in a game that is crucial to the Lightning’s playoff hopes. The puck drops in that one at 7pm.