Thursday, February 9, 2012
W2W4: Rangers vs. Lightning
By Katie Strang
At a glance: The Rangers remain on top of the Eastern Conference standings – leading the 2nd place Boston Bruins by three points – but enter Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning following Tuesday's tough 1-0 loss to the Devils. The Rangers' late-game rally was thwarted by a goaltender interference call that negated what would’ve been the game-tying goal. The Lightning are coming off a loss of their own – 3-1 against the L.A. Kings, also on Tuesday – but have played better of late, posting a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games.
Last time around: The Bolts' last trip to Madison Square Garden was an eventful one. Just hours before he was to play in his 500th consecutive game, Veteran ironman Marty St. Louis suffered a freak accident in practice that sidelined him for two weeks. St. Louis had to be hospitalized after taking a puck to the eye on a wayward shot from teammate Dominic Moore, forcing him to miss his first game since 2005. And the game itself provided some drama as well. Artem Anisimov’s now-infamous lock-and-load goal celebration incensed the Vinny LeCavalier-led Lightning squad. Moore redeemed himself from the morning’s incidental gaffe, recording the game-tying short-handed goal and lone shootout winner in Tampa's come-from-behind 3-2 victory.
Power-less play: The Rangers’ power-play was held scoreless again Tuesday, blanked by the Devils in all three attempts. The sputtering specialty teams unit, ranked 27th in the league with a 13.1% success rate, has tallied only one man-up goal in the last 13 games and been denied in five straight.
Familiar faces: Both Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko won a Stanley Cup Championship with Tampa Bay in 2004 under then-Lightning coach John Tortorella. Richards has a career average of almost two points per game against his former club. The 31-year-old center has two goals and six assists in five games against the Lightning.
Big night for Brad: Struggling offensively, Richards aims to break out against his former team. Richards has recorded only three points (one goal, two assists) in the past 12 games for the Rangers.
About-face: Since suffering facial fractures on Garden ice back in December, St. Louis has put together two point streaks of eight games or more. The 36-year-old veteran has recorded 16 points (six goals, ten assists) in the last ten games, including a hat trick in Tampa’s 6-3 win over Florida on Saturday.
Bottom line: Playing three games in four nights, the Rangers look to rebound against the Bolts before a tough weekend against the Flyers and Capitals.