I guess we should be satisfied with the one point the Rangers picked up in tonight's 2-1 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, because they were outplayed two out of the three periods and probably did not even deserve it. A very strong third period saved them from being shutout by rookie Cedrick Desjardins and star Marian Gaborik was invisible until he scored the tying goal. It wasn't the Rangers' night and that is the bottom line, but still they came away with a point and will be right back at it Sunday against the Panthers.
Much like in New Jersey on Wednesday night, the Rangers were atrocious in the first period. They were turning the puck over in the offensive and neutral zones, which led to at least six or seven odd-man rushes for the Lightning in the period. At 13:03 Dana Tyrell capitalized on an odd-man rush when his fanned-on pass slid under Henrik Lundqvist to give Tampa a 1-0 lead. Other than that, Lundqvist was spectacular in the opening stanza, making nine saves and a few of them on Steven Stamkos. This was only the beginning of Henrik's eventful night, though.
The Bolts really brought it in the second period when they outshot the Rangers 15-13, which brought out the best in both goaltenders. Desjardins was great; I will give the kid credit. However, the Rangers were repeatedly shooting right at his pads. It seemed as if he was dropping on almost every shot, so all the Blueshirts needed to do was lift the puck. They were unable to do that and I think helped Desjardins out a bit because of it.
But Lundqvist was the story of the second, making saves on each of the 15 shots he faced. The defense left him alone often tonight, so he had to be very aware of his surroundings. I think he did a great job of that, especially in the second, when the Rangers were on the penalty-kill.
As they have for most of the season, the Rangers came out flying in the third period. They knew it was desperation time and that a goal was needed. It took until there was just 45 seconds left in regulation for Dan Girardi to find Marian Gaborik open in the slot for the tying goal, but they got it and forced overtime, as well as picked up a key point in the standings.
That pleasure did not last very long, because former Islander Nate Thompson buried the game-winner just 19 seconds into overtime, shocking the Rangers and snagging the win for the Bolts. I don't think the defense expected it, nor did Lundqvist, so basically the entire team was caught off guard on the final play of the game.
Continue reading after the jump....
As I said, the Rangers owe Henrik Lundqvist big time because he is the only reason this game was even in reach of them tying it. The Lightning showed their offensive skill in this game, but Hank had answers for most of the shots the Bolts put on net. I think he will be getting the night off tomorrow, though, since it is a 5:30 puck drop and Martin Biron is about due for a start.
Gaborik may have scored a big goal, but he was nowhere to be found prior to that moment. Head coach John Tortorella put it perfectly when saying that Marian is struggling with confidence, because that seems to be exactly the problem. Gabby just doesn't look like himself out there and he isn't giving the team what they need. Something needs to spark him.
The Rangers were solid on the penalty-kill considering they were able to contain the league's third best powerplay unit in the Bolts. Again, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust were a big part of this and sacrificed the body often. Those two are invaluable to this team because of the effort they bring to the ice night in and night out. You gotta love ‘em.
I also thought Dan Girardi and Marc Staal had strong games on defense. They kept St. Louis, Stamkos and Lecavalier off the scoresheet, so that is something to be proud of.
Luckily, the Rangers resume action tomorrow night (Sunday) against the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. If they can grab two points in that game, a total of 3 out of 4 on this Floridian road trip is not bad at all.
Also, in other news, the Islanders have traded goaltender Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a defensive prospect. I guess Desjardins, despite his great performance, will be returned to the AHL then.