New York Rangers: Nikita Kucherov

Lightning strikes twice in nine seconds

January, 14, 2014
1/14/14
10:55
PM ET
NEW YORK -- If New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault seemed particularly irked by the Tampa Bay Lightning's second goal Tuesday night, he had good reason.

Before detailing the ill-fated sequence, one that resulted in the game-winning goal for the Lightning in their 2-1 win over the Rangers, Vigneault noted that the set faceoff play was one the team had discussed at length Tuesday morning before the game.

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesThe Rangers allowed two goals in just nine seconds in the second period against the Lightning.
Vigneault showed his club video of the play, then took time to address it again on the bench, when the Bolts tried to execute it three shifts prior to Nikita Kucherov's go-ahead marker.

The 20-year-old winger was sprung for a clear breakaway off the draw when Lightning blue-liner Radko Gudas threaded a beautiful seam pass between Rangers defensemen John Moore and Michael Del Zotto.

"The second goal was a little bit disappointing, not to say frustrating, because it's something we talked about on video this morning, shown on video," Vigneault said. "They had done the exact same play a couple seconds before, three shifts before, in fact."

"For them to get the breakaway off that was certainly very disappointing," he said.

Kucherov's goal came just seconds after Victor Hedman notched a power-play marker to knot the game at 1 just 1:10 into the second period, a nine-second span that is tied for Tampa Bay's franchise record for quickest two goals scored in a game.

Though the swift shift in momentum could've been a dagger to the Rangers, who entered Tuesday's action on a three-game winning streak and took a 1-0 lead on Brad Richards' first-period goal, it wasn't.

They recovered during the second period and generated plenty of pressure in the third, but could not solve Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who was terrific in his first game back from injured reserve after sustaining a wrist injury earlier this month.

"We had some momentum of our own, we just couldn't put one past him," defenseman Marc Staal said.

The hulking netminder, who towers at 6-foot-7, entered the game with phenomenal numbers against the Blueshirts -- .89 goals against average, .970 save percentage in four career games -- and he did not disappoint for the Bolts.

He was tested early but was stingy throughout the game in front, where Mats Zuccarello had a couple of Grade-A chances in the third period, one in particular that came with the Rangers on the power-play and the chance to tie the game and less than five minutes remaining.

"He's so big," Staal said. "You look up and you don't see anything. He covers a lot of net. He's played well against us. For a big guy like that, you've got to get in front of him, you've got to get him down."

Both man-up opportunities for the Rangers came in the third, though they couldn't convert on a power-play that, before this game, had been cruising right along.

Prior to Tuesday's loss, the Rangers sixth-ranked unit had tallied on the power-play in five consecutive games.

"In the third, I thought we were pretty sharp," Zuccarello said. "We just couldn't score today."

The loss, combined with Philadelphia’s 4-3 win over Buffalo, dropped the 24-21-4 Rangers to fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.

What next?

"Just keep going," said captain Ryan Callahan, whose high-sticking penalty led to Hedman's power-play goal. "We keep playing like that and we are going to get the bounces and get the equalizer there. We just have to bring that into Detroit."

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