Tampa, FL (Sports Network) – Ryan Malone had two goals and Tampa Bay fended off a late rally by the New York Rangers for a 5-3 win at St. Pete Times Forum.
Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 21st goal of the season and assisted on both of Malone’s tallies for Tampa Bay, which has won five straight. Brett Clark and Victor Hedman each tallied goals in the win, while Mike Smith turned away 17 shots.
“We gave up everything they got,” Smith said. “If we would have just kept playing the way we did the first two periods they would have gotten nothing. We have to respect our opponent every night. We have to play a full game of 60 minutes.”
Steve Eminger, Brian Boyle and Derek Stepan each scored during the third period for the Rangers, who have dropped three of their last five games.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 of the 34 shots he faced in the loss.
The Lightning scored the game’s first five goals, while outshooting the Rangers, 25-7, during the first two periods.
“We have to play a full 60 minutes,” Rangers forward Brandon Dabinsky said. “We played terrible. If we would have played like we did in the third that was the game plan we drew up. That’s what we wanted to do at the begining of the game”
Seven minutes into the game, Tampa Bay was on its first power play of the game when Martin St. Louis picked up a loose puck and shoveled it to Stamkos in the left corner. Stamkos wristed it toward the net, where Malone found the rebound at the top of the crease and put it in.
Stamkos and Malone hooked up for another power play goal 15:37 into the opening period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.
The Lightning found the net again with just under five minutes gone in the second period on a 2-on-1 break led by St. Louis. He crossed the puck to Steve Downie, who found a trailing Stamkos for the goal.
With just under nine minutes left in the second, Downie’s one-timer was deflected in by Clark to put the Bolts up 4-0 during a power play.
The Lightning took their biggest lead of the night after Hedman ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that sailed past a well-screen Lundqvist.
New York scored three unanswered goals in the final period, but the comeback fell short.
The first goal came from Eminger, who was set up by Stepan four minutes in. The second came shorthanded nearly nine minutes later when Boyle slipped it in thanks to a crisp past from Marc Staal.
The last tally came with 64 seconds left when Stepan netted a one-timer from the point.
New York gave up its first powerplay goal in seven games…St. Louis, Purcell and Downie also had two assists in the victory.