After a thrilling victory in Game 1, the New York Rangers tossed up a stinker this evening as they were blown out 6-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. This now shifts the series back to Tampa Bay tied up at 1-1, and the Rangers will have to make some adjustments prior to Wednesday night. Luckily, many of the issues the Rangers faced tonight were self inflicted mistakes, and they should be easily corrected.
The Rangers were also extremely undisciplined tonight which gave the Lightning plenty of time to cash in on the power play. And it wasn't like these were penalties they needed to take as a result of the Lightning pushing the pace, they were just unnecessary.
This game got off to quite a start for the Rangers, as they were able to attack the Lightning right from the opening puck drop. That resulted in two consecutive penalties on Tampa Bay, which gave the Rangers about a minute of 5-on-3 time early in the first period. Funny enough, it wound up working against the Rangers, and the Lightning were able to snag a shorthanded goal while being down two players.
Martin St. Louis fumbled a pass just inside the blue line, which allowed Tyler Johnson to break in all alone from the red line. Lundqvist wound up making the initial save, but St. Louis sliding into him after the save knocked the puck into the net. The Rangers responded quickly on the power play though, and knotted the game back up about three minutes later.
Chris Kreider was able to pounce on a loose at the top of the crease, and chopped the puck by Ben Bishop before he was able to react. However, a few minutes later the Lightning got their chance on the power play and Tyler Johnson ripped home his second of the game. Both Dan Girardi and Dominic Moore committed to Steven Stamkos up in the high slot, which left Johnson wide open off to the left side of the net.
When Johnson received the puck, he looked off the shot initially, but ripped a hard wrist shot under the bar to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead. Johnson wouldn't stop there either and eight minutes into the second period, he completed the hat trick on another broken play in front of the Rangers net. It all started with another self inflicted wound as Marc Staal wiped out along the boards, and gave the Lightning a 2-on-1 break back the other way.
The puck got caught up in a slew of bodies in the crease, and Johnson was able to get a slight piece of the puck to knock it past Lundqvist. Late in the period, Derek Stepan made things interesting after he banked a pass from behind the net off of Braydon Coburn and into the empty net.
At the end of the period, the Rangers looked to be in a good spot after having a strong finish and only having to fight off a one goal deficit. Although, after a quick start to the third period by the Lightning, this game got out of hand pretty quickly. They were able to pile on three consecutive goals in the third period courtesy of Alex Killorn x2, and Steven Stamkos. While this game was certainly a stinker, this may actually be a blessing in disguise.
The Rangers usually respond pretty well after these type of games, and Henrik Lundqvist? Bank on him coming out possessed when the puck drops for Game 3. Burn the tapes from this one, and move on to Wednesday. At the end of the day, this series is tied up at 1-1 and there is still plenty of hockey to be played.