The ice was heavily tilted in their favor: despite being down two key defensemen in Marc Staal and Michael Sauer, the New York Rangers were facing an undermanned, struggling Tampa Bay Lightning team minus one of their best players in forward Martin St. Louis. It only got worse when the Blueshirts, learning from their lackluster starts in the previous few games, scored in the first period. On this night, however, it all didn't matter as the Rangers couldn't put Tampa Bay away, ultimately losing 3-2 in the shootout.
When captain Callahan sniped a power-play goal in the first period via a Brad Richards pass, it looked as if this game would easily be within the Rangers' grasp. They outshot the Lightning 13-7 in the frame, but could not get anything else past Mathieu Garon. That -- and the Rangers' 1-for-6 power play that was unable to put the dagger in the Lightning's chances in the third period (0-for-3 in the final frame), cost the Rangers the win.
In the second period, Tampa Bay tightened things up on defense, limiting the Rangers to only six shots on net, but getting 14 themselves. Eventually, Ryan Malone would convert on an easy goal after a blind, back-handed clearing attempt from Ryan McDonagh. The sophomore defenseman had a rough stretch, also commiting a penalty 30 seconds after essentially giving away the goal.
The Rangers have proven to be resilient, however. Killing off one of their four penalty kills, Artem Anisimov potted an easy goal off some swift passing from Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Dubinsky. In celebrating his goal, Anisimov cocked his stick back like a rifle and proceeded to "shoot" at the Lightning net, prompting a lengthy scrum afterward. The young Russian was ultimately assessed 16 minutes in penalties (which included a 10-minute misconduct) as altogether, there were 11 penalties from the scrum.
One minute, 57 seconds left in the third period -- after the Blueshirts managed five shots on net -- Dominic Moore scored his own shorthanded goal to tie the game up, on a rising backhander that deflected off of McDonagh's stick. The Rangers would dominate the overtime period, but Giguere's tremendous effort preserved the chance for his team's win. Moore was the only one to score in the shootout.
What's so disconcerting about this loss was that the Rangers had a chance to take care of a team that had lost five straight and was without one of its stars. Instead, they allowed the visitors to stay in the game, were a bit careless and sloppy at times, and it doomed them. They'll have a Friday practice to clean up their game, before playing on back-to-back nights.