The Tampa Bay Lightning are good. Really good, in fact. But that does not excuse the New York Rangers for the type of performance they put on tonight in front of their fans at Madison Square Garden. They were run into the ground by the Lightning, and simply had zero answers for their speed through the neutral zone. Henrik Lundqvist let in five goals tonight, and I'm not entirely sure you can blame any of them on him. The five men in front of him left him out to dry all night long, and there's not much you do as a goalie when you are being peppered from high percentage areas like that.
The Tampa Bay Lightning got started pretty quickly tonight, and kept the pressure on for the rest of the game, following a goal from Nikitia Kucherov in the opening minutes. After Martin St. Louis failed to score on a partial breakaway at the other end, the Lightning quickly transitioned, where Tyler Johnson eventually whipped a outlet pass up ice to catch Kucherov breaking in all alone. Kucherov was able to create some space for himself, where he ripped a hard shot through the legs of Lundqvist, and it bounced in behind him for the 1-0 lead.
A little over eight minutes later, the Lightning struck once again as ex-Ranger Ryan Callahan tapped in a sweet dish from Steven Stamkos to make it 2-0. Carl Hagelin attempted to cut off Stamkos by sprawling out in front of him, but Stamkos made easy work of him, before he made a few more moves in close, and dished it over to Callahan for slam dunk. Dan Girardi was initially in position just prior to the pass, but Callahan was able to push off of him in front, which created the necessary room for him to get a handle on the loose puck.
Finally, in the second period, the Rangers got the answer they were looking for as Martin St. Louis cashed in on a own goal off of Jason Garrison. After receiving the pass from Derick Brassard, St. Louis tried to fire a pass over to Nash, which was deflected in front, and slipped in behind Ben Bishop. The goal appeared to give the Rangers some life after their horrid first period, but unfortunately, they weren't able to climb out of the hole.
Following St. Louis' tally, the Lightning continued to pour it on in the offensive zone, and eventually scored two more goals later on in the period. The first one came courtesy of Steven Stamkos, who was able to break in all alone on a Rick Nash turnover in the neutral zone. Valtteri Filppula was able to jump the route on the Nash cross-ice pass, and quickly flipped it up to Stamkos which sent him in on a breakaway. Coming in with speed, Stamkos was able to get Lundqvist to bite on the backhand fake, and slipped it under his glove hand for the 3-1 lead.
Then four minutes later, it was Alex Killorn who converted off a nice little drop pass from Tyler Johnson to extend the lead to three goals. Killorn was able to slip in undetected on the counter attack, which put him in a perfect scoring position once he received the pass from Johnson. The Rangers were pretty much lifeless for the rest of the game, and with just under three minutes remaining, Ryan Callahan put the final nail in the coffin.
With the Rangers scrambling in their own end, Marc Staal misplayed the puck behind the net, which basically handed it to Steven Stamkos on a silver platter. Without much hesitation, Stamkos found Callahan out front, where he tucked it around Lundqvist to close out the scoring at 5-1. The Rangers were simply outclassed entirely tonight, and didn't appear ready for this game in the least bit. In previously their losses, the Rangers effort wasn't an issue, but tonight it was probably one of the biggest takeaways.
The Rangers will have to get it together here pretty quickly, as the Philadelphia Flyers are scheduled to be in town on Wednesday night.