|NYR VS TBL
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When the Rangers (90 points) last faced the Lightning (73 points) four games ago, the two teams played an ugly but tough contest that the Blueshirts won 1-0 in overtime. On Monday night, the Blueshirts played faster and cleaner than the Lightning while dictating play throughout, but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities early; they lost 3-2.
From puck drop, the Rangers were the pacier of the two squads, despite playing last night on the road. They owned a dominant 13-3 shot advantage and Steven Kampfer got his first goal as a Ranger for the 1-0 advantage at the end of the first period.
But unlike last week, the lone goal wouldn’t hold up. Halfway through two periods, the Lightning had a 2-1 lead on just six shots after rookie Brayden Point scored on the powerplay and a double deflection snuck behind Antti Raanta. Tampa Bay had just nine shots on goal through two.
The final stanza would start tied at deuces though, as Michael Grabner used opportunism and speed to capitalize on a Jason Garrison whiff and tie the game. The goal was his team-high 27th and he’s tied for the league lead with 26 even-strength goals. Chris Kreider had an opportunity for his 27th on a breakaway in the first minute, but his shot was stopped.
But Point, who celebrated his 21st birthday, would get the only goal of the period, his second of the game. The Rangers didn’t have the juice to come back and get the win and Point will surely be celebrating, even though Tampa wasn’t the better of the two teams.
For a team with so much skill, the Rangers failed to generate much of a highlight reel, despite the game’s fast pace. That’s mostly attributed to missing empty nets, as Mika Zibanejad whiffed on a power play chance in the first and his feed to Pavel Buchnevich was shot wide. Those missed opportunities, amongst others, cost the Blueshirts as they ran out of gas in the third period.
All year, the Blueshirts have been terrific in back-to-backs, with a 9-2 record in the second games, but couldn’t get their second back-to-back sweep in the calendar week. But there’s not much to take from the loss since, as evidenced by the box score, this was a game that the Rangers really controlled.
New York will host Florida on Friday night.
Notes: Grabner’s goal was his first in ten games; The Rangers outshot the Lightning 28-16; New York won 62% of faceoffs; Nikita Kucherov has 20 points in his last ten games; Columbus and Pittsburgh both have a four-point advantage on the Ranges for second place in the Metro division; New York is five points behind Washington, who has lost their its last four games.