Tampa, Fla. (CBS) The Tampa Bay Lightning held a 2-1 lead through two periods against the New York Rangers Saturday night, but a botched third period resulted in a 4-2 loss for the ailing bolts.
New York sought revenge after losing all four of its regular season games against the Lightning during the 2010 season, and they snapped the streak in dramatic fashion. Artem Anisimov tied the game at 6:16 in the third period from an assist by Derek Stepan, then Stepan scored the eventual game-winning goal at the 16:41 mark to hand the bolts its first loss of the season after holding a lead through the first two periods.
The Lightning took an early first period lead when Steve Downie buried a slap shot less than two minutes in, which was rare considering the bolts have made it a nasty habit to play from behind. The momentum early on eventually faded, and costly defensive slip-ups brought the Rangers back in it.
Once New York got a pulse back, the game was nothing but over. Marc-Andre Bergeron got muscled off the puck in the Lightning zone which resulted in the equalizer for Anisimov, then Stepan got his chance when the Lightning defense got caught out of their own defensive zone.
Mathieu Garon stopped 32-0f-35 shots on the night, but his performance was shadowed by the unfortunate turn of events in the third period.
Both of these teams are heading in completely opposite directions at this point in the season. The Rangers have won 12 of its last 14 games, while the bolts have lost seven of its last 10 and fell to fourth place behind Winnipeg in the Southeast Division.
“There is always a team that decides to lose before another team decides to win,’ coach Guy’ Boucher said to reporters after the game. The quote is fitting in so many ways. Mentally this team gets down on themselves after playing so well, and once that winning mentality is gone the game is already decided.