The Lightning used one of their most dominant periods of the season to take an early lead against the rebuilding New York Rangers. It's true that they weren't able to sustain that pace throughout the game - and did endure a sloppy third period. But it was still an impressive victory, their fourth in a row and one that improved their record to 8-0-1 over the last nine games.
During the first 15 minutes of the opening period, the Lightning simply overwhelmed the Rangers. Nearly all of that time, action took place in the New York defensive zone. The Lightning, who spent Wednesday's practice day working on d-zone coverage, were excellent in limiting the Rangers' time and space during the isolation shifts in which New York had possession in the Lightning's zone. At the other end, the Lightning were relentless in their puck pursuit and displayed a shooting mentality. Henrik Lundqvist allowed goals to Cedric Paquette and Adam Erne, but he also made at least a half dozen stops on other Grade-A scoring chances. At one point, the Lightning were outshooting the Rangers, 17-0.
It's difficult to maintain such a torrid pace, however, and play did even out somewhat as the game progressed. Although shots were tied, 15-15, in the second period, the Lightning outscored the Rangers, 3-1, and took a 5-1 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes.
The Bolts weren't nearly as crisp in the third period and ceded much of the puck possession to the Rangers, who pulled to within 5-3. Play in the final period has been an issue of late for the Lightning, who have surrendered third period leads in recent contests. So the way this third period unfolded wasn't how the Lightning would have preferred to script it. But thanks to their tremendous start and ability to grab a big lead after two periods, they were able to withstand New York's late push.
This was a game that featured nice depth scoring for the Lightning - the third and fourth lines contributed four of the five goals. In just his fourth NHL game, Anthony Cirelli posted a goal and two assists.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Cirelli's goal, making it 3-0.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1. Anthony Cirelli - Lightning. Goal and two assists.
2. Victor Hedman - Lightning. Plus two. Six shots.
3. Mikhail Sergachev - Lightning. Two assists.