Recap: Point Steals The Show, Lightning Strikes Rangers 6-3

Recap: Point Steals The Show, Lightning Strikes Rangers 6-3
Mar 14, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save from Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Anthony Duclair (10) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

If the season ended today, the Rangers would be hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. Yet another added layer to what’s been a busy week full of intense match-ups. Up to this point, the Rangers were undefeated against the Lightning on the season but after Tampa’s stars took a hold of things, the Rangers saw the game suddenly slip out of their hands. Let’s break it all down.

1st Period:

The game got off to an exciting start as Chris Kreider immediately used his speed off the face-off to take the puck in on a breakaway against Andrei Vasilevskiy. Erik Cernak was able to slow Kreider down enough to keep him from getting a quality shot off and Tampa immediately went the other way with it.

Former friend Anthony Duclair had a couple of quick chances on Igor Shesterkin who would go on to make a couple of great saves early on, including a flashy glove save on Steven Stamkos. The pace was non-stop back and forth from there as both sides shared a fair share of offense, establishing great pace to the game.

About seven minutes in, Conor Sheary tripped up Erik Gustafsson in the Rangers zone which gave them the first power play of the night. There would be a feisty gathering beforehand as Michael Eyssimont put the puck on net a little late which triggered a response from Gustafsson that quickly had everyone on the ice involved.

The Rangers absolutely dominated the first half of the man advantage as they moved the puck quickly and incredibly well. Unfortunately, power play two wouldn’t be able to carry on with that same type of momentum which left things knotted up at zero through the first half a great paced opening period.

With six minutes to go in the period, Alexis Lafrenière made a good play at the blue line to get the puck out of the Rangers zone. Vincent Trocheck then took it in for a 2-on-1 with Artemiy Panarin where he pulled off an incredible move to feed Panarin perfectly to put it home and make it a 1-0 game.

Just a couple of minutes later, Jack Roslovic came flying into Tampa’s zone and attempted an incredible self-pass-through the skates move that was broken up but not enough for him to lose the puck. He then sent the puck over to Mika Zibanejad who gave a quick pass to a pinching Braden Schneider who snapped a quick shot home to extend the Rangers lead 2-0.

Another extremely impressive period from this Rangers team who have been playing some tremendous hockey as of late. Through the first twenty, shots were 11-5 in their favor as they led the Bolts in face-offs, attempts and high danger chances. Not only were they getting their offense going but they continued to play just as tight defensively.

2nd Period:

Picking up right where they left off, the Rangers continued to move the puck beautifully in the offensive zone and weren’t giving Tampa much of anything in their own end. Alex Wennberg got down in front of a hard shot which would become the first of many tough blocks that left the Rangers a bit shaken up. The Rangers offense continued to press as the second line again found themselves on an odd man rush where a pass from Panarin intended for Lafrenière was broken up by a good defensive play from Tampa that kept things moving along.

Just over the midway mark of the game, Artemiy Panarin took a slash from Victor Hedman which gave them their second power play chance of the night. Those two minutes would be a bit chaotic as an equipment malfunction left Zibanejad coming off early for Lafreniere. Then by the time power play two took to the ice, Zibanejad briefly went out with them until he took a puck to the face which sent him right back off and to the Rangers locker room.

On top of that, the Lightning did a great job of killing off the penalty and a Jonny Brodzinski turnover in the neutral zone soon after would proof costly as Brayden Point would finish off a nice pass from Nikita Kucherov to bring the Bolts within one, snapping Shesterkin’s two and a half game shutout streak.

Things continued to falter a bit for the Blueshirts as Lafreniere took the teams first penalty of the night for interfering with Braden Hagel. Still without one of their top penalty killers in Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers penalty killers struggled a bit against Tampa’s lethal power play but Shesterkin kept them going.

As a result of everything that had just gone down, the Lightning had some newfound momentum which slowly built towards the score getting tied before the second intermission. In the final minutes of the period, Brayden Point again went off and completely took control of the play. After a scramble in front and a point blank save from Igor, Anthony Duclair had a wide open net to put home the rebound to make it a 2-2 game.

It was a great first half of the game for the Rangers but between the Mika injury and Lafreniere penalty, the Lightning quickly took advantage of their opportunity which completely changed the story of the game. The Rangers were still ahead in scoring chances and high danger chances but the Lightning were now within one on the shots on goal tally 17-16.

3rd Period:

Zibanejad would return for the third period with a full face shield after taking a puck to the face halfway through the second. Just two minutes in, a good forecheck from Kreider got the puck up to Adam Fox at the point. Fox sent it across the zone to Jack Roslovic who fired a shot into the open side of the net for his first goal as a New York Ranger to regain the teams lead, 3-2.

The Rangers nearly went back to the penalty kill after a miscommunication regarding a line change to the point where the officials initially called a penalty but then decided it not to be one. Not long after that, a chance for Tampa resulted in Matt Dumba going hard to the net, getting a little too close for Shesterkin’s liking. The Rangers net minder gave Dumba a hard shove which led to more chaos ensuing that prompted coincidental minor penalties. Dumba for goalie interference, Kreider for roughing.

On the 4-on-4, Brayden Point continued his impressive night with an incredible individual effort to get around Gustafsson to sneak a shot through Shesterkin to tie the game back up, now 3-3.

The intensity continued as Ryan Lindgren laid a massive hit on Anthony Duclair which left them tangled up along the boards for. On top of that, the Rangers were continuing to get beat up, particularly when it came to blocking shots. Lafrenière took a puck up high which left him quite stunned and not long after it was Lindgren heading to the locker room after blocking a shot to the head as well. Brutal night in that regard.

Just over the ten minute mark. Nikita Kucherov had a breakaway after a bad giveaway from K’Andre Miller but made a great effort to break up the chance on the back-check. Not long after that, Will Cuylle would go off for slashing which would be a major turning point as Steven Stamkos hammered home a shot after a fantastic pass from, you guessed it… Brayden Point. 4-3 Tampa.

He would quickly become the story in this one as he would end up completing the hat-trick with just about five minutes to go. Kucherov found him practically all alone in front of Shesterkin as he was able to put it home to make it a 5-3 game. The Rangers didn’t give up but lost control of the puck right as they pulled Shesterkin and Kucherov was able to find the empty net, giving Brayden Point his sixth point of the night as he had the primary assist.

Despite there still being a couple of minutes on the clock, this game had completely fallen out of the Rangers grasp and it was mainly credited to the Lightning’s top players. The only real criticism you could give the Rangers, who otherwise played a fantastic game, was that these are the kinds of individual star efforts you need from your top guys, especially in games like this as the Lightning proved. All in all, five and six point nights from your top players is an incredible and uncommon feat so while it’s a tough loss for the Rangers, it’s one you have to just shake off and take away the positives.

The Rangers are back at it Saturday Afternoon as they’ll take on the Pittsburgh Penguins before heading back home for a rematch with the Islanders on Sunday.