The Tampa Bay Lightning entered Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers hoping to build on a five game winning streak, and hoping to continue scoring in bunches. Playing the second of a rare home back-to-back, the Lightning had difficulty through the neutral zone and getting into the offensive zone throughout the night, and as a result, lost their first home game of the year, falling to the Rangers 3-2 in front of a sold out Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday night.
We pushed as much as we could,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “We gave it everything we had. It was 1-1, a tight game. It was anybody’s game. I just feel like they capitalized on our mistakes and we did not.”
Mathieu Garon, who had previously started one game, a victory against Carolina, got the start on the second half of a back to back and was strong between the pipes, making a number of key saves. Garon stopped Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik early in the game to keep the Rangers off the board.
The Lightning power play, which has been such a strength early in the season, came through to get the home team the lead early in the second period when defenseman Matt Carle found Steven Stamkos in the slot to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.
The Rangers would get the goal back before the end of the frame though, as Derek Stepan found a loose puck in front of the goal and beat Garon to tie the score at 1.
In the third, the Rangers would retake the lead when Rick Nash skated down the right wing, got around defenseman Victor Hedman, and cut to the front of the net to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The Rangers would get their third goal on the night when Taylor Pyatt found Carl Hagelin in the slot to put the team Rangers ahead 3-1.
Steven Stamkos would get the Lightning back to within a goal with just 21 second remaining in the game when he fired a one timer from the right circle that beat Rangers goaltender Martin Biron up high. For Stamkos, it was his second goal of the game. That would be as close as the Lightning would get though, as the Rangers held on to hand the Lightning their first home loss of the season.
The loss was even more costly as Lighting Captain Vincent Lecavalier got hit with a Lightning shot as time expired, and was extremely slow getting off the ice. Lecavalier was seen post game still limping significantly. The only official comment from the team was that Lecavalier was still being evaluated.
“We had multiple chances,” Lighting forward Steven Stamkos said. “We had four or five 2 on 1’s that were close, but we couldn’t capitalize. They capitalized on their chances. Both goalies made some pretty good saves. A couple minutes there we fell asleep but I thought we did have our chances and one power play tonight. It would have been nice to have a couple more but that’s the way it goes and we have to regroup. They are a good team, and we are a good team, pretty tight game.”