The New York Rangers finally registered their first win on the road after losing eight straight games, and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 5-2. It has also been a while since the Rangers got back on the horse and played a complete game. They won the possession battle tonight by a slight margin, and a result, they were able to keep the Lightning in check while hanging onto a one goal lead in the third period.
With the Lightning, and Bishop, having the Rangers number over the last few meetings, the Rangers made a point by getting on the board first. The goal came off of a beautiful set play after a faceoff win, with Keith Yandle possessing the puck just inside the blue line. After a fake shot sent Ryan Callahan sliding by, Yandle found Dan Boyle cutting in from the far side, and sent the puck over in his direction.
Vladislav Namestnikov was unaware of Boyle cutting in, and Yandle's pass landed cleanly on his tape for the easy tap in to the right side of the net. Ben Bishop was still expecting the initial shot by Yandle, so he was extremely high up in his crease which gave Boyle the entire net to shoot at. It was an important goal for the Rangers to set the tone on the road, and it gave them some early momentum. Unfortunately, later on in the period, an untimely hi-sticking call on Rick Nash wound up costing the Rangers.
Anton Stralman's point shot was deflected in front by Jonathan Marchessault, and the puck just barely slipped by Henrik Lundqvist to knot the game up at one. The Rangers were playing with fire by taking three penalties in the first period, and this one finally burned them. However, the Rangers responded just 56 seconds into the second period, and regained a one goal lead. Mats Zuccarello was credited with the goal after absolutely picking apart Ben Bishop, and banging the puck in off of the crossbar.
J.T. Miller got the play started by entering the zone with speed, before dropping the puck off to Zuccarello who finished the rest. Much like the first period, the Rangers were able to keep their lead intact for a majority of the period, but another late goal made it a tie game once again. This time around it was Anton Stralman cashing in on the power play, after taking several swats at the puck at the top of the crease.
Initially, the goal was waived off after the official lost sight of the puck and ruled that the whistle hand gone. However, the play went to review, and the Toronto war room confirmed that the goal would stand. That would send both teams into the intermission deadlocked at 2-2. That would only last three minutes into the third period, after Dominic Moore forced a turnover on Victor Headman, and danced around Ben Bishop to make it 3-2.
After regaining the lead, the Rangers went into full shutdown mode and prevented the Lightning from getting much of anything throughout the final 17 minutes. That eventually set the stage for the Rangers to notch TWO empty net goals in the closing two minutes, and iced the game 5-2. Viktor Stalberg and Rick Nash were credited with the empty net goals for the Rangers.
The Rangers closed out 2015 with a much needed win on the road, and they will now enjoy a two day break before meeting up with the Florida Panthers on Saturday evening.