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Callahan outscores St. Louis, Rangers top Lightning

by Corey Long

TAMPA -- Martin St. Louis couldn’t get much going against his former team in his return to Tampa, but Ryan Callahan continued to torment the New York Rangers.

Callahan, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for St. Louis last season, had two goals and an assist to lead the Lightning to a 4-3 win against the Rangers at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.

The former Rangers captain scored two goals against New York in their first game, which the Lightning won 5-1 on Nov. 17 at Madison Square Garden.

"Tonight I was more focused on the game and not the things going on around it," Callahan said "It was about the two points. Going into the game in New York, there were a lot of emotions involved. Tonight I had that stuff out of my mind."

St. Louis was booed whenever he touched the puck but the crowd did applaud when a video tribute was played during a break in the first period.

"[The tribute] was great, brought back a lot of memories," St. Louis said. "I felt I wanted to give them the thank you they deserved. I understand the booing and it was expected. They are great fans."

St. Louis didn’t provide much to the Rangers offense and failed to get a clean shot against goalie Ben Bishop on his best scoring chance early in the third period. St. Louis remains two points shy of 1,000 for his NHL career.

"The puck got away from me there a little bit," St. Louis said. "It was a different night for me. I’ve never seen hockey played on that side of the rink, I’ve always been on the other side."

Callahan’s second goal came at 10:17 of the second period and broke a 2-2 tie. Steven Stamkos took possession of the puck and skated behind the net to draw in the Rangers defense before sending a crisp centering pass between forwards Jesper Fast and Tanner Glass to Callahan, who scored off a one-timer.

"[Callahan] earns everything he gets," Stamkos said. "He is willing to sacrifice his body and go into those areas to do the dirty work and get rewarded. The qualities he has and the person that he is, they all have a big effect on this team."

Nikita Kucherov gave the Lightning a 4-2 lead at 9:38 of the third period when Tyler Johnson’s shot deflected off his skate past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers (9-8-4) made it 4-3 at 12:49 of the third period when Rick Nash skated through the Lightning defense to the slot and pushed a wrist shot past Bishop.

The Rangers failed to get scoring opportunities in the period as the Lightning (15-6-2) tightened up on defense and held New York to 19 shots on goal for the game.

"We probably got lucky on a couple of posts early in the third but overall I thought we played pretty solid game," Stamkos said. "We held them under 20 shots and you want to limit the opportunities those guys get."

Stamkos gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 5:25 in the first period on his 15th goal of the season when he sent a wrist shot high above Lundqvist glove on a power play. Mats Zuccarello tied the game at 9:00 in the first when took a pass from Nash and sent a snap shot between Bishop’s pads.

"We were ready for this game but they made a couple more plays offensively and defensively than we did," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously we would have preferred a different outcome."

Dan Boyle scored his first goal with the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 11:04 in the first period, but the Lightning tied the game 2-2 on a power-play goal from Callahan at 17:34.

"These are the games at home that get you into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] or get you good seeding going into the playoffs," Callahan said. "We will continue to work on closing out these games but I thought it was a good win for us."

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