By Brooks Roland
The Tampa Bay Lightning began another three-game road trip on Monday night with one of their more highly-anticipated matchups of the season, as they took on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It was the teams’ first meeting since they made the first captain-for-captain trade in NHL history last March, with Marty St. Louis headed to New York and Ryan Callahan coming to Tampa Bay.
On this night, it was the Lightning winning in dominant fashion by the score of 5-1, as Callahan scored twice and added an assist in his return to New York. It was one of the Lightning’s most complete efforts of the season, as they outshot the Rangers 30-16, bottled them up in the neutral zone, used their speed to generate scoring chances on both the rush and off turnovers, and kept New York’s scoring chances to a minimum after killing off a two-man advantage for the Rangers early in the second period.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
I couldn’t decide between Callahan and Steven Stamkos, so why not pick both? These two were unstoppable. The Lightning’s captain made a move highlight-reel move, using some nifty stickhandling to evade Rangers forward Carl Hagelin before dishing the puck to Callahan, who put the Bolts up 2-0. Stamkos also set up Callahan’s second goal with a relentless forecheck behind the net and feeding it to Callahan, who went around Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to put the finishing touches on the team’s victory. Stamkos scored his lone goal of the night on a breakaway following a turnover at the Rangers’ blueline in the later stages of the second period.
Early in the second period, the Rangers had momentum on their side as St. Louis, the Bolts’ former captain (who finished -4 on the night), scored a power play goal just 32 seconds into the period as his centering pass bounced off of Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison and into the net. Just 20 seconds later, the Bolts took another penalty, followed by another one that gave New York a 5-on-3. The Rangers were unable to score, and the Lightning took control from there. If the Rangers had scored on that power play, it might have been a different game.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Alex Killorn scored with 1:18 left in the second period to give the Bolts a 4-1 advantage. Killorn worked a give-and-go with Tyler Johnson before firing a hard wrist shot past Lundqvist. Killorn’s tally came shortly after a goal by Jonathan Drouin was disallowed due to Killorn interfering with Lundqvist.
Gotta give the nod to Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula on this one. Filppula, who skated with Stamkos and Callahan, finished with two assists, including forcing the turnover that led to Stamkos’s goal. Kucherov opened the scoring in the first period with a breakaway goal just moments after Ben Bishop denied Marty St. Louis on a breakaway. Kucherov used his speed to create a couple other scoring opportunities as well.
The Lightning’s road trip continues with a visit to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum tonight, as they meet the New York Islanders for the second time in less than a week. The Lightning won the first meeting last Saturday at Amalie Arena by a 5-2 score. The Islanders have not played since that game.