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Defensive Breakdown Leads the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-3 Defeat Against the New York Rangers


Dec 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I am sure that this is not how the Tampa Bay Lightning envisioned finishing out 2013. Unfortunately, a defensive breakdown ushered the Lightning to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.

It almost feels as if the Tampa Bay Lightning hadn’t quite woken up at the beginning of the game. The Rangers would get on the board early with a goal from Rangers left wing Rick Nash.

However, it wouldn’t be long until the lightning would surge back. While Rangers center J.T. Miller sat in the box for two minutes for Hooking Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, Tyler Johnson would fire off a wrist shot that would find its way past Lundqvist to tie the game for the Lightning.

The surge would not end there.

At 16:05 in the first, Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat would score his 6th goal of the season with the assists from defenseman Radko Gudas and J.P. Cote.

Unfortunately, after his stick broke in two during the faceoff, Lightning center Valtteri Filppula would get sent to the box for 2 minutes for a faceoff violation, opening the door for the Rangers to capitalize on the Power Play. Capitalize, they did. Left wing Mats Zuccarello tipped in a shot from center Derick Brassard with the secondary assist going to Ryan McDonagh.

This was just the beginning of the special teams woes for the Lightning. The second period was all about the Rangers. On two separate occasions; once at 3:18 when defenseman Dmitry Korobov was sent to the box for 2 minutes for Holding Rick Nash, and the other when J.P. Cote sat in the box for 2 minutes for High Sticking Carl Hagelin, the Rangers were able to capitalize on the Power Play.

The first goal came at 4:35 with a goal from left wing Carl Krieder, and the second came at 7:51 from former Lightning left wing Benoit Pouliot.

The Rangers were 3 for 3 tonight on the Power Play. One the other side of the ice, the Lightning was able to capitalize on 1 of their two opportunities.

In the third period, the Lightning would play their best frame by far. The Lightning would outshoot the Rangers 16-6 in the final frame.

That flurry of offense would lead the Lightning to a goal from center Valtteri Filppula at 8:14 in the third. The assists on this goal would go to Teddy Purcell and Dmitry Korobov. Unfortunately, this would be the last point that the Lightning would see this night.

While this game may seem like the end of the world to some in the Bolts Nation, I assure you it is not.

In the beginning of the game, the Lightning offense seemed very rusty; however, as the game progressed, they seemed to awaken more and more. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the defense, or more specifically, the Penalty Kill.

Again, the Rangers were able to capitalize on all three of the Power Play attempts that were afforded to them. The team that fought against the Rangers was not the team that I have become accustomed to seeing this season.

There are a few things that the Lightning is going to have to do in order to shake off the rust and be ready for the next game.

The first of which is to stop taking unnecessary penalties, and stay as far away from the box as they can. Until they can stop the hemorrhaging on the Penalty Kill, they need to keep themselves out of the box in order to stop affording those opportunities to the opposition.

The next thing they need to do is to stop overpassing the puck. Before the matchup with the Rangers the Bolts had seemed to stop the overpassing game, but against the Rangers they seemed to fall back into their old habit, trying too hard for the “cute” shot. If they can get back to the way they played against the Predators and the Panthers, then we will be in pretty good shape.

I think one of our biggest issues was the defensive zone turnovers, which in large part was due to the overpassing.

While some people may lean towards pinning this loss on Anders Lindback, I am going to have to respectfully disagree. While I think that Bishop may have performed better in front of the Bolts’ lackadaisical defense, there is only so much that even the best goaltender can accomplish when they are lacking support in front of the net.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist played a tremendous game. He was able to stop 37 of 40 shots that were brought against him, giving him a Save Percentage of .925. Pretty solid considering the amount of shots that were brought against him.

Now, as I said before, this is something that the Lightning can most definitely overcome. I have said all season long that the Bolts have the talent to get the job done; this was made apparent during the Lightning’s latest win streak. All they have to do is keep their head in the game and stay focused on the goal at hand. Of course, by goal, I mean the game ahead.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Mats Zuccarello
  2. Ryan McDonagh
  3. Teddy Purcell

Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning will head out on the road for a four-game road trip. The first stop will be the Rogers Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks.

What is your take on the game? What do you think the Lightning are going to need to do in order to get back on track against the Canucks on New Year’s Day? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think.

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