Following a come-from-behind victory on Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers had an opportunity to make it two wins in a row against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Rangers started this game absolutely flat, and despite a strong push at the end of the game, they fell short in regulation time. Mika Zibanejad also put up two more points tonight for the Rangers, which brings his season total to 50 points in 51 games played.
1-0 Tampa Bay
Yanni Gourde (13) - Ryan McDonagh (23) & Mathieu Jospeh (6) - 6:51 1st Period
The Rangers came out with a pretty quick start during the opening minutes, but it completely died out a short time after. The Lightning were able to right the ship after some early chances against, and Yanni Gourde put the Lightning up 1-0 at the 6:51 mark of the first period. Ryan McDonagh’s shot gave Henrik Lundqvist a bit of trouble, and he wasn’t able to locate the rebound in time before Gourde poked home the loose puck in the crease.
2-0 Tampa Bay
Erik Cernak (1) - Ryan Callahan (8) & Cedric Paquette (3) - 4:41 2nd Period
The Rangers miserable ending to the first period carried over in the second, and the Lightning were able to double up their lead. Erik Cernak came away with his first career NHL goal as he broke into a shooting lane in the high slot, and ripped a quick wrist shot that beat Lundqvist just under the arm. Lundqvist appeared to be a little deep in his net, and did himself no favors once Cernak got the shot off from in close.
3-0 Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos (28) - Victor Hedman (28) & Nikita Kucherov (58) - 8:33 2nd Period
A little under four minutes later, Steven Stamkos gave the Lightning a commanding 3-0 lead with a well placed shot just off to the right of Lundqvist. Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov created the entire played with a beautiful zone entry, and Stamkos finished it off with a snap shot just inside the post. Lundqvist got a slight piece of the puck with his shoulder, but it wasn’t enough to keep the puck out of the net.
3-1 Tampa Bay
Mats Zuccarello (9) - Mika Zibanejad (29) & Chris Kreider (16) - 16:17 2nd Period
The Rangers finally stopped the bleeding late in the second period, as Mats Zuccarello picked up his ninth goal of the season. Chris Kreider found Mika Zibanejad with an excellent breakout pass from the defensive end, and Zibanejad almost immediately passed the puck off to Zuccarello when he crossed the blue line. Zuccarello waited a couple seconds, and after a small head-fake, he snapped the puck under Louis Domingue’s arm to make it a 3-1 game.
3-2 Tampa Bay - PPG
Kevin Hayes (11) - Mika Zibanejad (30) & Henrik Lundqvist (3) - 6:49 3rd Period
The Rangers kept the comeback hopes alive early in the third period with Kevin Hayes notching a goal on the power play. A heads up play by Henrik Lundqvist caught the Lightning during a change, and he quickly passed the puck up to Zibanejad breaking into the zone. Zibanejad, who has been an absolutely machine as of late, dished a ridiculous cross-ice saucer pass over to Kevin Hayes for the one-timer. Domingue was unable to slide over in time before Hayes got the shot off, and he buried his 11th of the season.
Even though the Rangers’ comeback effort fell short tonight, they found a way to fight back after barely showing up during the first half of the game. Following tonight’s loss, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings.