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game recap

Lightning strikes early and often in 5-1 loss at Tampa

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM
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Lightning strikes early and often in 5-1 loss at Tampa
New York Rangers 1, Tampa Bay Lightning 5

 

• PHOTO GALLERY

• RANGERS GAME CENTER

By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

John Tortorella’s return to Tampa Bay was not a pleasant one on Friday night, as his former club, the Lightning, handed his current team, the Rangers, a 5-1 defeat at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Kurtis Foster scored twice for the Lightning, and goaltender Mike Smith stopped the first 25 Rangers shots he faced until Ryan Callahan spoiled his shutout bid with 2:07 left to play in the third period.

“This is probably the worst game we’ve played all year,” said the Rangers head coach.

Tortorella coached the Lightning for seven seasons and guided them to the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship. During a television timeout during the first period, he was honored with a salute on the scoreboard and received a standing ovation from the Tampa crowd.

“He was here for a long time, obviously, and we would’ve liked to have a better game for him,” defenseman Marc Staal said of Tortorella. “It didn’t happen, but we’ll try and get it back again (Saturday).”

One of Tortorella’s best players when he coached in Tampa, speedy winger Martin St. Louis, really helped make his former coach’s return to town a sour one, however. St. Louis buzzed all over the ice, creating numerous scoring chances for himself and his teammates. And he also earned the primary assist on the first three Lightning goals.

St. Louis made a quick pass out of the right-wing corner to Steven Stamkos, who was stationed at the bottom of the right circle, to set up Tampa Bay’s first goal 6:54 into the opening period. Stamkos displayed an extremely quick release in snapping his shot past Lundqvist to the far side for his team-high 16th goal of the season.

The Lightning struck for a backbreaking goal with just 35.2 seconds to play in the first period to up their lead to 2-0. Skating on a power play with Ales Kotalik in the penalty box after being assessed a charging penalty for running into Smith behind the Lightning net, St. Louis zipped a pass from right-wing over to left-wing, where Foster cranked a slap shot over the glove of Lundqvist for his first goal of the night.

Foster’s score was a tough one for the Rangers to surrender, because it came so late in the period, plus the fact that the visitors had been outplayed for much of the first, but had a chance to escape into the intermission trailing by only one goal. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Foster’s goal put them at a two-goal deficit and seemed to change the complexion of the contest.

St. Louis earned another power-play assist at 8:05 of the second period to help Tampa Bay grab a 3-0 lead. Down near the goal line on left wing, St. Louis lifted a soft saucer pass over the stick of Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto and perfectly on to the stick of teammate Steve Downie for an easy tap in.

The Lightning finally scored a goal with St. Louis on the bench at 12:25 of the second when Paul Szczechura potted his first goal of the season. Lundqvist jumped up to knock down Matt Walker’s shot, and after a scramble in front, Szczechura chipped a shot off the skate of Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy and into the cage to provide the Lightning a four-goal lead.

Perhaps with a thought to Saturday’s contest in Pittsburgh against the Penguins, Tortorella decided to remove Lundqvist from the game after Szczechura’s goal and replace him with Steve Valiquette. Lundqvist finished his night having allowed four goals on 22 shots.

“We were simply outplayed from the top line right on through the goaltender,” said Tortorella. “We were outplayed from the beginning of the game right on through.”

Valiquette surrendered Foster’s second goal of the game 8:24 into the final period to give Tampa Bay a 5-0 lead. Zenon Konopka beat Chris Drury on a face-off in the Rangers’ zone, and Foster picked the loose puck up and snapped it past the glove of Valiquette.

At the other end of the ice, the Rangers generated very few prime scoring chances, though when they did Smith was sharp between the pipes for the Lightning. In the first period Smith made a pair of quality saves on separate breakaways by P.A. Parenteau and Callahan, and in the second he made good stops on Drury and Christopher Higgins at different points. In the third period, Smith’s most impressive saves came against Higgins and Vinny Prospal.

Tampa Bay did a terrific job shutting down the Rangers top two forwards, Marian Gaborik and Prospal, the former Lightning forward. Gaborik’s best scoring chance came with 8:30 to go in the middle period when he accepted a head-man feed from Dan Girardi and took off with a rolling puck towards Smith. However, Lightning defenseman Andrei Mezsaros caught up to Gaborik and bodied him hard off the puck and into the back of Tampa’s net as the puck slid harmlessly away into the corner, an absolutely tremendous individual effort by the veteran blueliner.

Bobby Sanguinetti, the Ranger’s first round selection in the 2006 draft, made his NHL debut one day after being recalled from Hartford in the American Hockey League. Skating in the place of the injured Wade Redden, Sanguinetti recorded a shot on goal during his first shift, the only one he had on Friday night while logging 16:07 worth of ice-time.

“Obviously it could have gone better, it was tough one for the first one,” Sanguinetti said after the game. “It’s good to get the first one out of the way and see what it’s like. But it was a tough one.”

A home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins awaits the Rangers next. The two Atlantic Division rivals hook up Saturday night in Pittsburgh and then do battle at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

scoring summary
1st Period
06:54
TBL
Steven Stamkos (16) ASST: Martin St. Louis (21), Victor Hedman (6)
1 - 0 TBL
19:24
TBL
PPG - Kurtis Foster (2) ASST: Martin St. Louis (22), Vincent Lecavalier (16)
2 - 0 TBL
2nd Period
08:05
TBL
PPG - Steve Downie (3) ASST: Martin St. Louis (23), Steven Stamkos (12)
3 - 0 TBL
12:25
TBL
Paul Szczechura (1) ASST: James Wright (3), Matt Walker (2)
4 - 0 TBL
3rd Period
08:24
TBL
Kurtis Foster (3) ASST: Zenon Konopka (2)
5 - 0 TBL
17:53
NYR
Ryan Callahan (4) ASST: Artem Anisimov (7), Marc Staal (7)
5 - 1 TBL
penalty summary
1st Period
03:24
NYR
Sean Avery  Roughing against  Vincent Lecavalier
03:24
TBL
Vincent Lecavalier  Roughing against  Sean Avery
03:24
TBL
Vincent Lecavalier  Roughing against  Sean Avery
16:22
TBL
Paul Szczechura  Tripping against  Bobby Sanguinetti
17:32
NYR
Ales Kotalik  Charging against  Mike Smith
20:00
NYR
Sean Avery  Hi-sticking against  David Hale
20:00
TBL
David Hale  Roughing against  Sean Avery
2nd Period
06:28
NYR
Artem Anisimov  Hi-sticking against  Victor Hedman
12:49
TBL
Matt Walker  Fighting against  Brian Boyle
12:49
NYR
Brian Boyle  Fighting against  Matt Walker
3rd Period
12:08
TBL
Zenon Konopka  Misconduct
12:08
TBL
Zenon Konopka  Instigator against  Brian Boyle
12:08
TBL
Zenon Konopka  Fighting against  Brian Boyle
12:08
NYR
Brian Boyle  Fighting against  Zenon Konopka
12:08
NYR
Brian Boyle  Boarding against  James Wright
14:15
TBL
Steven Stamkos  Holding against  Marian Gaborik
14:15
NYR
Donald Brashear  Roughing against  Matt Walker
14:15
NYR
Donald Brashear  Misconduct
14:15
TBL
Matt Walker  Misconduct
goalie stats
Henrik Lundqvist
SA: 22TOI: 32:25
Saves: 18EV: 14 - 16
PIM: 0PP: 3 - 5
SV%: .818SH: 1 - 1
Steve Valiquette
SA: 9TOI: 27:33
Saves: 8EV: 7 - 8
PIM: 0PP: 0 - 0
SV%: .889SH: 1 - 1
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
4-4-4
SA: 27TOI: 60:00
Saves: 26EV: 25 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .963SH: 0 - 0
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