Lightning Bolt The Rangers 6-3

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Following a shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, the Blueshirts headed into Tampa Bay to take on the best team in the NHL. Unfortunately for David Quinn and the Rangers, they got to see first-hand why many think the Lightning are favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Hayes – The Rangers took a lead into the first-period intermission thanks to a pair of goals from forward Kevin Hayes. For his first tally, Hayes spun around and threw the puck at the net where it banked in off of his former teammate Ryan McDonagh and into the net. After Tampa tied it at one, Hayes stoke the puck behind the Lightning net, hit Vesey in front and was able to put in the rebound past Louis Domingue. The goals give Hayes seven on the season as the young forward is looking to prove he is worth the big payday he seeks when the season ends.

Jesper Fast – Though it’ll only come as a consolation in the Rangers loss, Filip Chytil found a cutting Jesper Fast on the back door to pull the Rangers within two goals late in the third. It was the third tally of the season for Fast and his 11th point of the year.

Henrik Lundqvist – Perhaps the only reason the Rangers didn’t lose by a larger deficit was their netminder, Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik gave up five goals, but the Lightning peppered him with 35 shots, including eight with the Rangers shorthanded. Lundqvist made a few big stops during the first 40 minutes to keep the Rangers’ deficit to one heading into the third, but the Blueshirts weren’t able to beat Louis Domingue when they needed a goal.

Officiating – You don’t see me complaining much in these recaps about the officiating, but tonight it was brutal. The Lightning got six man-advantage opportunities while the Rangers got just one chance on the power play. But it wasn’t just the large disparity in whistles that brings about this need for discussion; it’s that the Lightning appeared to embellish on a few of the penalties they drew. Maybe some of the Lightning players deserve to win an Oscar or an Academy Award for their performances in eliciting a call from the referees. However, the fact of the matter is that the referees didn’t help the Rangers in their efforts against one of the NHL’s best teams.

Road Woes Continue – The Rangers have won just four games away from Madison Square Garden, and all four of those wins came via the shootout. To say the Blueshirts have struggled outside of the friendly confines at 4 Penn Plaza is a bit of an understatement. With David Quinn’s team heading on the road nine more times before the All-Star break, including matchups against Nashville, Toronto,  and Vegas, the Rangers will need to figure out how to win games on the road.

Next Game: The Rangers will try and get back in the win column on Friday night when they host the Coyotes at MSG. Puck drops at 7!

LETS GO RANGERS!!