NEW YORK -- Eventually, the penalties caught up with the Rangers.
As the penalties kept racking up Sunday afternoon against the Lightning, the Rangers' defense kept fighting, killing off the power plays and keeping the Lightning’s potent power play at bay.
In the third period, though, two penalties within a span of 53 seconds left the Rangers at a two-man disadvantage and the Rangers succumbed to the numbers, giving up the game-winning goal in a 2-1 loss.
“Penalty kill is good when you only have to kill two or three a game,” said Brandon Prust, who scored the Rangers' only goal of the game. “When you have to kill six or seven against a team like that, they are going to kill you.”
While the Rangers finished 5-for-6 in penalty kills on the day, including 5-for-5 in 5-on-4 situations, it was the Lightning’s power play goal that proved to be the difference. After playing penalty-free hockey for the first 24 minutes of the game, the Rangers racked up six straight penalties over the next 20 minutes.
The first three power plays were all killed off by the Rangers, but the unfortunate timing of the Rangers' fourth and fifth penalties, a boarding call on Dan Girardi and a delay of game against Brian Boyle, doomed the Blueshirts in their defeat.
Without All-Star defenseman Marc Staal, Rangers coach John Tortorella tried using two forwards, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky, to stop the Lightning, but crisp passes led to a nice sniper shot from Vincent Lecavalier that put the Lightning ahead for good with 17:20 left.
“It’s pretty simple to see why we lost, way too many penalties,” Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “I think we played a great game and the penalty kill was outstanding, but you can only kill so many and we did a lot of good things and we got close, a couple really big chances at the end, but it wasn’t enough.”
Conversely, while the Lightning scored on their power play, the Rangers could not take advantage of their four opportunities. The Rangers had the first three power plays of the game and the final one, but managed just four shots on the four power plays, including just one over the first three.
“We gotta capitalize,” recently acquired defenseman Bryan McCabe said. “We had three in the first, we get one, it’s a different game obviously. Then we took a bunch in a row and they got the momentum and ended up getting one on 5-on-3.”