Entering this game, the Lightning knew that they would see a spirited effort from the Rangers, who were coming off a lopsided loss to the Boston Bruins. And the Rangers did compete hard throughout the night. Compounding matters for the Lightning was that they lost two players to injury. Pat Maroon only played one shift and Victor Hedman didn't return after the first period.
So it's true that the Lightning were skating with a shorthanded lineup while facing a motivated opponent. But the bottom line is that they simply didn't play consistently well enough to earn a better result.
Many of the solid elements to the Lightning's five-on-five play that had been on display in recent games were not present in their performance against New York. The Lightning had puck management issues in the defensive zone and, particularly in the third period, committed mistakes on coverage. As a result, the Rangers owned most of the puck possession in the game and amassed 42 shots on goal.
The Lightning did have some strong moments of their own. Their first period goal came after a sustained offensive zone shift that tired out the Rangers defenders. Then as New York attempted to get those tired players off the ice, Brayden Point countered before the Rangers could complete their change. Point set up Kucherov for the first goal of the game.
The Lightning enjoyed a dominant stretch in the second half of the second period. A well-executed power play didn't yield a goal, but it provided momentum. Also, they generated several odd-man rush chances during the game. Still, other than on the Kucherov goal, they weren't able to cash in.
But those segments were the exception on this night, not the rule. The Lightning again got into penalty trouble. During the first 30 minutes, they took four penalties leading to opposition power plays. They killed off the first three, but allowed a goal on the fourth. That tally from Kappo Kaako tied the game.
In the third period, the Lightning surrendered several Grade-A chances while the game was still knotted at one. Andrei Vasilevskiy did his best to keep the game tied, but he couldn't stop Filip Chytil's tip-in goal off the rush at 12:46. Later, moments after Mikhail Sergachev hit the post with a shot, the Rangers converted off a three-on-one rush to extend their lead. They iced it with an empty-netter.
Due to the injuries and the way the game unfolded, the Lightning had to expend a lot of energy. They'll have to bounce back immediately, however, as they complete their back-to-back on Wednesday when they visit the Devils in New Jersey.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1. Filip Chytil - Rangers. GWG.
2. Alexandar Georgiev - Rangers. 29 saves.
3. Ryan Strome - Rangers. Goal and assist.