[38-36-8]
3
2
12/08/2011
FINAL SO
[51-24-7]
123 SO T
TBL011 1 (1-2) 3
31SHOTS30
28FACEOFFS22
26HITS25
34PIM30
0/4PP1/6
2GIVEAWAYS8
6TAKEAWAYS9
23BLOCKED SHOTS18
     

Bolts beat Rangers 3-2 in physical affair

Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 10:04 PM

NEW YORK -- Dominic Moore refused to call it redemption. But after a nightmare of a morning Thursday, he had to feel a little better about things when he left Madison Square Garden later that night.

Moore scored a shorthanded goal with 1:57 left in regulation to tie the game, then had the only goal during the shootout to give the Lightning a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers.

During the Lightning's morning practice, an errant backhander from Moore caught Martin St. Louis in the face. Instead of playing in his 500th consecutive game, St. Louis spent the afternoon in the hospital and is out indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures.

"I think the things I'm thinking about are how we stuck together as a team and responded the way we did," Moore said. "As a man in our room, everyone's thinking of Marty and we're trying to get the win for Marty. He's our leader every second of every day. That was our thoughts."

It was almost poetic how Moore tied the game.

His backhander that beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist occurred at the same end of the ice and was shot from almost the exact same spot where tragedy struck in the morning. Instead of missing high and wide to the short side like he did in the morning, Moore hit the top corner of the net over Lundqvist's catching glove to get the game to overtime.

Moore then beat Lundqvist for the only goal in the shootout after Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon was brilliant in overtime. Moore denied feeling any extra relief, but Steven Stamkos said it was nice to see his teammate feeling far less anguished than he did about 10 hours earlier.

"He was feeling a little guilty about what happened this morning," Stamkos said. "It was a tough one for him, but it shows you how mentally tough he is to come back in the game. We said we wanted to win this one for Marty. It's kind of ironic that he scored on a backhander after this morning. It's not funny, but it kind of is. I'm sure Marty would be happy that we won for him."

The victory was a much-needed one for the Lightning, who had lost a League-high five straight coming into the game. Things were looking down after losing St. Louis in the morning, but coach Guy Boucher puts his team through a rigorous practice that he said was designed to keep their spirits up.

Apparently, it worked, as the Lightning scrapped their way to two points when it looked like they were going to drop their sixth straight.

"I don't want to say it's because of what happened this morning. It's just bad luck what happened," captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "I'm happy we got the win tonight. Marty and (Nate) Thompson were missing. They're a big part of our team. For us to fight back and to win is really good for us."

The Lightning erased a pair of one-goal deficits. Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for the Rangers with a power-play goal at 7:49 of the first period. He skated out from the left-wing wall and snapped a shot short side over Garon's catching glove to make it 1-0.

The score remained that way until midway through the second period, when Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was also on the ice for Moore's game-tying goal, turned the puck over in his own zone to the Lightning's Ryan Malone. Lundqvist was unable to stop Malone, whose quick wrister tied the score at 11:23.

Two minutes, a goal by Artem Anisimov led to hostilities between both teams.

Anisimov buried a shorthanded goal that was the result of a great passing play by Brandon Dubinsky and Michael Del Zotto. But the celebration that followed, which featured Anisimov wheeling around and pretending his stick was a rifle that he fired back at the Lightning net, set off a melee.

There were a combined 38 minutes in penalties dished out, including 10 to Lightning forward Steve Downie. According to the official play-by-play, Downie was not on the ice at the time of the goal, which means he left the bench to join the fracas. Rangers coach John Tortorella said officials told him they missed it, but Downie could be subject to a suspension or supplementary discipline.

As for the celebration that drew the ire of the Lightning, Tortorella said Anisimov apologized to his teammates. There wasn't a player on either team who defended the actions, and Tortorella said it's something that won't happen again.

"I don't think he realized what would happen in that type of situation," Tortorella said of Anisimov, who wasn't permitted to speak with reporters after the game at the behest of the coach. "I don't think that's planned by him to go that far. I don't blame Tampa Bay at all. I expect our team to do the same thing. It's a lesson learned pretty quickly."

Anisimov's histrionics would've been the story if the Rangers held on to their late lead, but Moore's goal and shootout winner stole the spotlight -- and two points for the desperate Lightning.

"We always tell the players that winning is not a habit, it is habits," Boucher said. "The most important habit is perseverance, and that's what the players did today. With Martin St. Louis getting injured, I'm sure we could have folded, but I think you see the type of character we've got. And Dominic Moore, it just shows you what kind of character this man has."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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