NEW YORK -- The Rangers' two-game win streak was halted Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden as the Blueshirts fell to the Lightning, 2-1. Tampa Bay scored the go-ahead goal in the third period on a 5-on-3 advantage.
WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: With just 17 games left in their season, the Rangers need to accumulate as many points as possible to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Tampa Bay is almost a lock for the playoffs, while the Rangers can't afford any losing streaks as they are in a battle for one of the last spots. These two points could’ve been a huge boost.
KILLER PENALTY: The Rangers opened up the third period with back-to-back penalties, creating a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Lightning that resulted in the game-winning goal. Dan Girardi was penalized for boarding and Brian Boyle followed him after clearing the puck over the glass. Given the two-man advantage, Tampa Bay quickly took the lead on a goal by Vincent Lecavalier with 17:20 remaining.
TOO MANY PENALTIES: The Rangers started off the game with the first three power play opportunities, but Tampa Bay had the next six chances and ultimately capitalized. While the Rangers did notch their only goal shorthanded, a score by Brandon Prust, they spent far too much time down one man over the final two periods.
POWER PLAY BLUES: The Rangers had four power plays, but failed to score on any of their chances. They did not get any shots off on the first two power plays and had just three shots during their fourth power play in the third period. Ultimately, Tampa Bay’s ability to convert on one of its power plays and New York’s failure decided the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis scored the first goal of the game and added an assist on the game-winning goal.
LATE BLOOMERS: The Rangers' offense wasn’t easy to watch early on. There was little rhythm and the Rangers took just four shots in the first period. In the second period, the Rangers finally got into a groove on offense and attacked Tampa Bay’s goal, creating scoring chances and galvanizing the quiet crowd.
UP NEXT: The Rangers will face the Sabres in the middle game of their three-game home set Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Entering Sunday’s game, the Sabres were in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, but just five points behind the Rangers while having played three less games.