Tampa Bay Lightning end their back-to-back series with a definitive 7-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
Girardi was acquired by the Bolts in the offseason after he was bought out by the Rangers. Miller and McDonagh were involved in a deadline trade that gave the Rangers Lightning fan favorite Vladislav Namestnikov.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The first period started out pretty slow for the Bolts. The team went almost 10 minutes into the game with only one shot on goal. However, they seemed to pick up the pace, right until Brady Skjei opened the score for the Rangers, giving them an early lead.
To end the first period, Pavel Buchnevich trips Nikita Kucherov in a dirty play. Standing up for his teammate, captain Steven Stamkos immediately dropped the gloves. Stamkos defending Kucherov landed him with a slew of penalties, including an instigator penalty, fighting, and a game misconduct. This totaled a whopping 17 minutes in penalties.
Stamkos’ altercation with Buchnevich increased his penalty minutes to 19 in the first 20 minutes of play. Earlier in the period, Stamkos took a two-minute penalty for Boarding against Neal Pionk.
Starting the second period, the Bolts needed a spark, and Stamkos was the driving force after sacrificing playing time for a teammate. Less than four minutes in, that spark is lit. Cedric Paquette scores after a couple of jabs upfront by the net. Paquette’s fourth of the year tied the game at one.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to strike for the second time. About a minute later, Alex Killorn scores off his own rebound, and the Lightning take the lead, 2-1 in the second.
The second intermission seemed to only fuel the Bolts further. The Lightning scored three goals within three minutes of the start of the third. These goals were a mere two minutes and three seconds apart.
J.T. Miller scores his ninth as a Bolt against his former team, with assists to Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn on the Power Play Goal. A minute and 18 seconds later, Paquette picks up his second goal of the night to give the Lightning a 4-1 lead over the Blueshirts.
To top it off, Brayden Point skates into the slot and wrists one to make the lead 5-1. Point’s goal makes it the fifth unanswered goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rangers forward Filip Chytil scored the first goal in his career, which was followed by a goal from Chris Kreider to cut the Bolt’s lead 5-3. However, the Rangers simply ran out of time to get the job done. An empty-netter from Brayden Point, his 30th of the season, essentially sealed the deal for the Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning is back on top of the Eastern Conference, with 108 points on the season. There is no guarantee the Lightning will hold onto this spot for the remainder of the season. The race between the Lightning and Bruins will continue to rage until the final buzzer sounds.
On Sunday night, the Lightning will take on the Nashville Predators in an all-too-important contest. Will the Lightning be able to bring home the two points and hold on to the top spot? Only time will tell.