The Tampa Bay Lightning fell 2-1 in overtime to the New York Rangers at AMALIE Arena Thursday night.
The Lightning were able to salvage a point from defeat.
Truth be told, they probably didn't deserve two.
Andrei Vasilevskiy kept the Bolts in the game, making 33-of-35 stops, but saw his nine-game win streak in decisions, tied with John Grahame (2003-04) for the longest in Lightning history, come to an end.
Tampa Bay couldn't get going offensively, top scorers Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov held without a point. Yanni Gourde's game-tying, shorthanded tally 11 minutes into the second period was the only goal the Bolts could muster.
The Lightning will try to get back in the win column on Saturday when they host former head coach John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
What can the Lightning take out of Thursday's contest? And what do they need to improve upon?
We'll take a look at both in Three Things from an OT loss to the Rangers.
Video: NYR@TBL: Vasilevskiy uses mask to deny Skjei
1. FIRST STAR HONORS FOR VASILEVSKIY
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was named the game's first star, despite suffering the overtime loss.
That's how valuable his performance was to the Bolts.
"He clearly got us the point tonight," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "There's no question about that."
Early in the contest, Vasilevskiy showed he was on his game, making a desperation stick save on Jesper Fast who was in the slot to clean up a rebound after Michael Grabner hit the post. Fast had a sure goal, only Vasilevskiy swung his stick and was able to get just enough of the puck to keep it out.
Following the Lightning's first power play, Kevin Shattenkirk stepped out of the box and into a prime scoring opportunity, but his breakaway was gloved by Vasilevskiy.
The 23-year-old Russian was even stronger in the third period with the Lightning holding on for the point.
A turnover at the blue line led to a wide-open chance for Ryan McDonagh. Vasilevskiy pushed it aside with his blocker.
The Bolts turned the puck over several more times down the stretch.
Vasilevskiy was there to bail them out each time.
"He played awesome tonight," Brayden Point said.
He also was the lone reason the Lightning picked up a point.
Video: Cooper | Postgame NYR 2, TBL 1
2. GO-AHEAD GOAL DISALLOWED
The Lightning overcame a ragged first period and finally showed signs of life offensively as the second period progressed, Yanni Gourde netting the Bolts' first goal on a shorthanded two-on-one with Victor Hedman that was started by an impressive pass ahead by Brayden Point as he was being hauled down.
Tampa Bay carried that momentum into the third period and appeared to go in front when Alex Killorn's wrist shot from the high slot eluded Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Except the goal was disallowed on the ice, the refs deeming Lundqvist had been interfered with by Gabriel Dumont.
The Lightning challenged the goal, and video replay seemed to show Dumont was pushed into Lundqvist by a Rangers skater. Yes, Dumont skated into the blue paint on his own will, but he never actually touched Lundqvist until he was shoved into the goalie.
The call, however, was upheld, and the Lightning lost the challenge.
After the game, Cooper said the refs got the call wrong.
"I think the only person in the building who thought that wasn't a goal was the ref," Cooper said. "He missed it. He didn't make the save. You can tell by the goalie's reaction if he thinks its goaltender interference. He didn't react at all."
Lundqvist had a different take on the call after the game.
"I want to come out. I can't come out," Lundqvist said. "I can't play the position, so I think it was absolutely the right call. Sometimes I think players think that they have to bump the goalie, but he comes in there and I can't come out. So I think it's the right call for sure."
The goaltender interference has continually befuddled the Tampa Bay coaching staff as well as the 19,092 Bolts fans who packed AMALIE Arena for the 115th-consecutive sellout over the last few seasons.
Chalk Thursday's decision up to another head-scratching outcome.
Video: Gourde | Postgame NYR 2, TBL 1
3. RANGERS FOLLOW DUCKS BLUEPRINT
Anaheim came into AMALIE Arena on Saturday intent on clogging the neutral zone and preventing the Lightning from breaking out of the defensive zone with speed and used that formula to win 4-1.
The Rangers followed the Ducks' game plan and found success as well.
Tampa Bay couldn't get into any rhythm offensively because New York wouldn't allow it. The Rangers didn't want the Lightning to get up the ice with a head of steam and jammed up the neutral zone to prevent it. They also did a supreme job getting into passing lanes, deflecting pucks and just generally hounding the Bolts into bad passes and turnovers.
"Give the Rangers credit, they deserved to win that game," Cooper said. "They skated, they had a game plan in place and we played loose. We let them skate by us on a lot of occasions. We can't think it's going to be a track meet every night and that we will skill our way out."
With the Lightning sitting atop the NHL standings, opposing teams are going to give the Bolts their best shot night in and night out. The Bolts have to do a better job adjusting to different styles of play to maintain their stranglehold on the League.
"Everybody's trying to win in this league, so you should expect everybody to give you their A game," Cooper said. "The Rangers haven't had the start that probably they expected to have and they were desperate and they played like it tonight so good on them. We didn't play desperate. We played like it was game 82 and we'd already accomplished something. We haven't accomplished anything, and that was probably what was a little frustrating."